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on the basis of the alleged Court of Appeals resolution.

In the
meantime, complainant verified the authenticity of the Resolution and
obtained a certification dated January 18, 2002[5]from the Court of
[A.C. No. 5624. January 20, 2004]NATASHA HUEYSUWAN- Appeals stating that no such resolution ordering complainant to
FLORIDO, complainant, vs. ATTY. JAMES BENEDICT C. surrender custody of their children to respondent had been issued.
FLORIDO, respondent.
At the hearing of the petition for habeas corpus on January 23,
2002, respondent did not appear. Consequently, the petition was
dismissed.
DECISION Hence, complainant filed the instant complaint alleging that
respondent violated his attorneys oath by manufacturing, flaunting and
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: using a spurious Court of Appeals Resolution in and outside a court of
law. Furthermore, respondent abused and misused the privileged
This is an administrative complaint for the disbarment of granted to him by the Supreme Court to practice law in the country.
respondent Atty. James Benedict C. Florido and his eventual removal
from the Roll of Attorneys for allegedly violating his oath as a lawyer After respondent answered the complaint, the matter was
by manufacturing, flaunting and using a spurious and bogus Court of referred to the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline for investigation,
Appeals Resolution/Order.[1] report and recommendation. The IBP-CBD recommended that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three
In her Complaint-Affidavit, Natasha V. Heysuwan-Florido years with a warning that another offense of this nature will result in
averred that she is the legitimate spouse of respondent Atty. James his disbarment.[6] On June 23, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors
Benedict C. Florido, but that they are estranged and living separately adopted and approved the Report and recommendation of the
from each other. They have two children namely, Kamille Nicole H. Commission with the modification that the penalty of suspension be
Florido, five years old, and James Benedict H. Florido, Jr., three years increased to six years.
old both of whom are in complainants custody. Complainant filed a
case for the annulment of her marriage with respondent, docketed as The issue to be resolved is whether or not the respondent can
Civil Case No. 23122, before the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, be held administratively liable for his reliance on and attempt to
Branch 24. Meanwhile, there is another case related to the complaint enforce a spurious Resolution of the Court of Appeals.
for annulment of marriage which is pending before the Court of In his answer to the complaint, respondent claims that he acted
Appeals and docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54235 entitled, James in good faith in invoking the Court of Appeals Resolution which he
Benedict C. Florido v. Hon. Pampio Abarientos, et al. honestly believed to be authentic. This, however, is belied by the fact
Sometime in the middle of December 2001, respondent went to that he used and presented the spurious resolution several times. As
complainants residence in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental and pointed out by the Investigating Commissioner, the assailed
demanded that the custody of their two minor children be surrendered Resolution was presented by respondent on at least two occasions:
to him. He showed complainant a photocopy of an alleged Resolution first, in his Petition for Issuance of Writ of Habeas Corpus docketed as
issued by the Court of Appeals which supposedly granted his motion Special Proc. Case No. 3898,[7] which he filed with the Regional Trial
for temporary child custody.[2]Complainant called up her lawyer but the Court of Dumaguete City; and second, when he sought the assistance
latter informed her that he had not received any motion for temporary of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Tanjay City to recover
child custody filed by respondent. custody of his minor children from complainant. Since it was
respondent who used the spurious Resolution, he is presumed to have
Complainant asked respondent for the original copy of the participated in its fabrication.
alleged resolution of the Court of Appeals, but respondent failed to give
it to her. Complainant then examined the resolution closely and noted Candor and fairness are demanded of every lawyer. The burden
that it bore two dates: November 12, 2001 and November 29, 2001. cast on the judiciary would be intolerable if it could not take at face
Sensing something amiss, she refused to give custody of their children value what is asserted by counsel. The time that will have to be
to respondent. devoted just to the task of verification of allegations submitted could
easily be imagined. Even with due recognition then that counsel is
In the mid-morning of January 15, 2002, while complainant was expected to display the utmost zeal in the defense of a clients cause,
with her children in the ABC Learning Center in Tanjay City, it must never be at the expense of the truth.[8] Thus, the Code of
respondent, accompanied by armed men, suddenly arrived and professional Responsibility states:
demanded that she surrender to him the custody of their children. He
threatened to forcefully take them away with the help of his CANON 10. A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS
companions, whom he claimed to be agents of the National Bureau of AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
Investigation.
Alarmed, complainant immediately sought the assistance of the Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood; nor
Tanjay City Police. The responding policemen subsequently escorted consent to the doing of any in court;
her to the police station where the matter could be clarified and settled nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court
peacefully. At the police station, respondent caused to be entered in to be misled by any artifice.
the Police Blotter a statement that he, assisted by agents of the NBI,
formally served on complainant the appellate courts Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or
resolution/order.[3] In order to diffuse the tension, complainant agreed misrepresent the contents of a paper,
to allow the children to sleep with respondent for one night on condition the language or the argument of an
that he would not take them away from Tanjay City. This agreement opposing counsel, or the text of a
was entered into in the presence of Tanjay City Chief of Police Juanito decision or authority, or knowingly cite
Condes and NBI Investigator Roger Sususco, among others. as a law a provision already rendered
inoperative by repeal or amendment, or
In the early morning of January 16, 2002, complainant received
assert as a fact that which has not
information that a van arrived at the hotel where respondent and the
been proved.
children were staying to take them to Bacolod City. Complainant
rushed to the hotel and took the children to another room, where they
stayed until later in the morning. Moreover, the records show that respondent used offensive
language in his pleadings in describing complainant and her relatives.
On the same day, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court A lawyers language should be forceful but dignified, emphatic but
of Dumaguete City, Branch 31, a verified petition[4] for the issuance of respectful as befitting an advocate and in keeping with the dignity of
a writ of habeas corpus asserting his right to custody of the children the legal profession.[9] The lawyers arguments whether written or oral
should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel and should be foregoing irregularity and other formal defects, namely, the lack of
of such words as may be properly addressed by one gentlemen to notice of hearing to the private complainant, violation of the three-day
another.[10] By calling complainant, a sly manipulator of truth as well as notice rule, and the failure to attach the Certificate of Detention which
a vindictive congenital prevaricator, hardly measures to the sobriety of was referred to in the Motion as Annex 1.
speech demanded of a lawyer.
Respondents filed their respective comments, declaring that on
Respondents actions erode the public perception of the legal December 13, 2000, upon learning that a warrant of arrest was issued
profession. They constitute gross misconduct and the sanctions for against their client, they filed the Manifestation with Motion for Bail with
such malfeasance is prescribed by Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules the trial court. Then they immediately fetched the accused in Cavite
of Court which states: and brought him to the NBI to voluntarily surrender. However, due to
heavy traffic, they arrived at the NBI at 2:00 a.m. the next day; hence,
SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme the certificate of detention indicated that the accused surrendered on
Court, grounds therefore.- A member of the bar may be disbarred or December 14, 2000. They argued that there was neither unethical
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any conduct nor falsehood in the subject pleading as their client has
deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly voluntarily surrendered and was detained at the NBI. As regards the
immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving lack of notice of hearing, they contend that complainant, as private
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to prosecutor, was not entitled to any notice. Nevertheless, they
take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience furnished the State and City prosecutors copies of the motion with
appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so. notice of hearing thereof.Moreover, the hearing of a motion on shorter
notice is allowed under Rule 15, Sec. 4(2) of the Rules of Court.[3]
Considering the attendant circumstances, we agree with the For his part, respondent Susa argues in his comment that he
recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors that respondent was no longer in court when his co-respondents filed the Manifestation
should be suspended from the practice of law. However, we find that with Motion for Bail. Ms. Teofila A. Pea, Clerk III, received the said
the period of six years is too harsh a penalty. Instead, suspension for Motion and noticed that it was set for hearing on December 15, 2000
the lesser period of two years, which we deem commensurate to the and the Certificate of Detention was not attached. However, the
offense committed, is hereby imposed on respondent. presiding judge instructed her to receive the Motion subject to the
presentation of the Certificate of Detention before the hearing. Thus,
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, Atty. James Benedict
the inclusion of the Motion in the courts calendar on December 15,
C. Florido is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of two
2000 was authorized by the presiding judge and, thus, was done by
(2) years.
respondent Susa in faithful performance of his ministerial duty.
Let copies of this resolution be entered in the personal record of
In a Resolution dated August 13, 2001,[4] the instant case was
respondent as a member of the Bar and furnished the Bar Confidant,
referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Court Administrator
and recommendation or decision.
for circulation to all courts of the country.
On December 7, 2001, the Investigating Commissioner,
SO ORDERED.
Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, submitted her report and recommendation
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX as follows:
FIRST DIVISION
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, it is respectfully
recommended that Atty. Ceasar G. Batuegas and Atty. Miguelito
Nazareno V. Llantino be suspended from the practice of their
profession as a lawyer/member of the Bar for a period of six (6)
[A.C. No. 5379. May 9, 2003] months from receipt hereof. The complaint against Atty. Franklin Q.
Susa, upon the other hand, is hereby recommended dismissed for
lack of merit.[5]

WALTER T. YOUNG, complainant, vs. CEASAR G.


The foregoing Report and Recommendation was adopted and
BATUEGAS, MIGUELITO NAZARENO V. LLANTINO and
approved by the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline in Resolution No.
FRANKLIN Q. SUSA,respondents.
XV-2002-400, to wit:

RESOLUTION RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED


YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made
part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A; and, finding the
On December 29, 2000, Atty. Walter T. Young filed a Verified
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the
Affidavit-Complaint for disbarment against Attys. Ceasar G. Batuegas,
applicable laws and rules, and in view of respondents commission of
Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino and Franklin Q. Susa for allegedly
deliberate falsehood, Atty. Batuegas and Atty. Llantino are hereby
committing deliberate falsehood in court and violating the lawyers
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months. The
oath.[1]
complaint against Atty. Susa is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
Complainant is the private prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 00- merit.[6]
187627 for Murder, entitled People of the Philippines versus Crisanto
Arana, Jr., pending before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch We agree with the findings and recommendations of the
27. On December 13, 2000, respondents Batuegas and Llantino, as Investigating Commissioner. Respondents Batuegas and Llantino are
counsel for accused, filed a Manifestation with Motion for Bail, alleging guilty of deliberate falsehood.
that the accused has voluntarily surrendered to a person in
authority. As such, he is now under detention.[2] Upon personal A lawyer must be a disciple of truth.[7] He swore upon his
verification with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) where admission to the Bar that he will do no falsehood nor consent to the
accused Arana allegedly surrendered, complainant learned that he doing of any in court and he shall conduct himself as a lawyer
surrendered only on December 14, 2000, as shown by the Certificate according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good
of Detention executed by Atty. Rogelio M. Mamauag, Chief of the fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients.[8] He should bear in mind
Security Management Division of the NBI. that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the
court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice
Respondent Susa, the Branch Clerk of Court of RTC of Manila, and arriving at correct conclusion.[9] The courts, on the other hand, are
Branch 27, calendared the motion on December 15, 2000 despite the entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and
pleading before them.[10] While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend Republic of the Philippines
his clients rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense SUPREME COURT
of his clients cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of Manila
truth.[11]
The Court may disbar or suspend a lawyer for misconduct, FIRST DIVISION
whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be
wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity, and good demeanor,
thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.[12]
Evidently, respondent lawyers fell short of the duties and
responsibilities expected from them as members of the A.C. No. 3923. March 30, 1993.
bar.Anticipating that their Motion for Bail will be denied by the court if
it found that it had no jurisdiction over the person of the accused, they
craftily concealed the truth by alleging that accused had voluntarily CONCORDIA B. GARCIA, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISANTO L.
surrendered to a person in authority and was under FRANCISCO, respondent.
detention.Obviously, such artifice was a deliberate ruse to mislead the
court and thereby contribute to injustice. To knowingly allege an untrue SYLLABUS
statement of fact in the pleading is a contemptuous conduct that we
strongly condemn. They violated their oath when they resorted to 1. LEGAL ETHICS; MISCONDUCT OF COUNSEL; VIOLATION OF
deception. OATH NOT DELAY ANY MAN OR MONEY OR MALICE;
SUSPENSION FOR ONE YEAR FROM PRACTICE OF LAW FOR
Respondents contend that their allegation of the accuseds
GROSS ABUSE OF RIGHT OF RECOURSE TO THE COURTS BY
detention was merely a statement of an ultimate fact which still had to
ARGUING A CAUSE THAT IS OBVIOUSLY WITHOUT MERIT. —
be proved by evidence at the hearing of the Motion. That they were
The cause of the respondent's client is obviously without merit. The
able to show that their client was already under the custody of the NBI
respondent was aware of this fact when he wilfully resorted to the
at the hearing held on December 15, 2000 does not exonerate
gambits summarized above, continuously seeking relief that was
them. The fact remains that the allegation that the accused was in the
consistently denied, as he should have expected . . . By grossly
custody of the NBI on December 13, 2000 was false. abusing his right of recourse to the courts for the purpose of arguing
In Comia vs. Antona, we held: a cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed, he was disdaining the
obligation of the lawyer to maintain only such actions or proceedings
It is of no moment that the accused eventually surrendered to the as appear to him to be just and such defenses only as he believes to
police authorities on the same date tentatively scheduled for the be honestly debatable under the law. By violating his oath not to
hearing of the application for bail. To our mind, such supervening delay any man for money or malice, he has besmirched the name of
event is of no bearing and immaterial; it does not absolve respondent an honorable profession and has proved himself unworthy of the trust
judge from administrative liability considering that he should not have reposed in him by law as an officer of the Court . . . For this serious
accorded recognition to the application for bail filed on behalf of transgression of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he
persons who, at that point, were devoid of personality to ask such deserves to be sanctioned, not only as a punishment for his
specific affirmative relief from the court.[13] misconduct but also as a warning to other lawyers who may be
influenced by his example. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED
for ONE YEAR from the practice of law and from the enjoyment of all
In this jurisdiction, whether bail is a matter of right or discretion, the rights and privileges appurtenant to membership of the Philippine
reasonable notice of hearing is required to be given to the prosecutor bar.
or fiscal, or at least, he must be asked for his recommendation.[14]
In the case at bar, the prosecution was served with notice of RESOLUTION
hearing of the motion for bail two days prior to the scheduled
date.Although a motion may be heard on short notice, respondents PER CURIAM, p:
failed to show any good cause to justify the non-observance of the
three-day notice rule. Verily, as lawyers, they are obliged to observe In a sworn complaint filed with the Court on October 6, 1992,
the rules of procedure and not to misuse them to defeat the ends of Concordia B. Garcia seeks the disbarment of Atty. Crisanto L.
justice.[15] Francisco.
Finally, we are in accord with the Investigating Commissioner
that respondent clerk of court should not be made administratively On March 9, 1964, Concordia B. Garcia and her husband Godofredo,
liable for including the Motion in the calendar of the trial court, the Dionisio spouses, and Felisa and Magdalena Baetiong leashed a
considering that it was authorized by the presiding judge. However, he parcel of land to Sotero Baluyot Lee for a period of 25 years
is reminded that his administrative functions, although not involving the beginning May 1, 1964. Despite repeated verbal and written
discretion or judgment of a judge, are vital to the prompt and sound demands, Lee refused to vacate after the expiration of the lease. Lee
administration of justice.[16] Thus, he should not hesitate to inform the claimed that he had an option to extend the lease for another 5 years
judge if he should find any act or conduct on the part of lawyers which and the right of pre-emption over the property.
are contrary to the established rules of procedure.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Attys. In this disbarment case, the complainant claims that Lee's counsel,
Ceasar G. Batuegas, Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino are found guilty respondent Francisco, commenced various suits before different
of committing deliberate falsehood. Accordingly, they courts to thwart Garcia's right to regain her property and that all these
are SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) proceedings were decided against Lee. The proceedings stemmed
months with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will from the said lease contract and involved the same issues and
be dealt with more severely. parties, thus violating the proscription against forum-shopping.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal records Respondent, in his comment, says that he inserted in defense of his
of Attys. Ceasar G. Batuegas and Miguelito Nazareno V. Llantino in client's right only such remedies as were authorized by law.
the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies thereof be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines. The tangle of recourses employed by Francisco is narrated as
SO ORDERED. follows:

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
1. On March 29, 1989, Lee, through Francisco, filed a complaint 7. Two days later, Lee, through Francisco, filed with the Supreme
against Garcia and the other lessors for specific performance and Court a petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction and
reconveyance with damages in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon temporary restraining order against the Court of Appeals, Judge
City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2118. On June 9, Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors. This Court denied the petition
1989, Garcia filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds on January 27, 1992, and reconsideration on April 8, 1992.
of failure to state a cause of action, laches and prescription. The
case was dismissed by Judge Felimon Mendoza on August 10, 1989. 8. Finally, Lee, still through Francisco, filed a petition for certiorari
with preliminary injunction against Judge Singzon, Garcia and the
2. On May 29, 1989, Garcia and the other lessors filed a complaint other lessors in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to set aside
for unlawful detainer against Lee in the Metropolitan Trial Court of and declare the writs of execution in Civil Case No. 1455. This was
Quezon City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. 1455. Through dismissed on August 4, 1992, and Lee, through Francisco, filed a
Francisco, Lee filed an answer alleging as special and affirmative motion for reconsideration. According to Francisco, he was relieved
defense the pendency of Civil Case no. Q-89-2118 in the Regional as counsel while this motion was pending.
Trial Court of Quezon City. On September 5, 1989, Judge Marcelino
Bautista issued a resolution rejecting this allegation on the ground A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client but not at the
that the issues before the two courts were separate and different. expense of truth and the administration of justice.

3. On October 24, 1989, Lee, through Francisco, filed with the The cause of the respondent's client in obviously without merit. The
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City a petition for certiorari and respondent was aware of this fact when he wilfully resorted to the
prohibition with preliminary injunction against Judge Bautista, Garcia gambits summarized above, continuously seeking relief that was
and the other lessors. This was docketed as civil Case No. Q-89- consistently denied, as he should have expected. He thereby added
3833. In filing this petition, Francisco knew or should have known to the already clogged dockets of the courts and wasted their
that it violated the Rule on Summary Procedure prohibiting the filing valuable time. He also caused much inconvenience and expense to
of petitions for certiorari, mandamus or prohibition against any the complainant, who was obliged to defend herself against his every
interlocutory order issued by the court. move.

Francisco claims that what he appealed to the Regional Trial Court in By grossly abusing his right of recourse to the courts for the purpose
Civil Case No. Q-89-3833 was the denial of his prayer for dismissal of arguing a cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed, he was
of Civil Case No. 1455. This is not true. Civil Case Q-89-3833 was disdaining the obligation of the lawyer to maintain only such actions
clearly a special civil action and not an appeal. or proceedings as appear to him to be just and such defense only as
he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. By violating his
On November 13, 1989, Judge Abraham Vera issued an order oath not to delay any man for money or malice, he has besmirched
enjoining Judge Bautista from proceeding with the trial of the the name of an honorable profession and has proved himself
unlawful detainer case. Upon motion of the complainant, however, unworthy of trust reposed in him by law as an officer of the Court.
the injunction was set aside and Civil Case No. Q-89-3833 was
dismissed on January 9, 1990. Lee did not appeal. Atty. Crisanto l. Francisco took his oath as a lawyer on March 2,
1956. Considering his age and experience in the practice of the laws,
4. On April 6, 1990, Lee through Francisco, filed a petition for he should have known better than to trifle with it and to use it as an
certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction with instrument for harassment of the complainant and the misuse of
the Court of Appeals against Judge Vera, Judge Singzon, Garcia and judicial processes. For this serious transgression of the Code of
the other lessors. Docketed as CA G.R. Sp No. 20476, the petition Professional Responsibility, he deserves to be sanctioned, not only
assailed the January 9, 1990 order of Judge Vera dismissing Civil as punishment for his misconduct but also as a warning to other
Case No. Q-89-3833. On May 31, 1989, the petition was denied. lawyers who may be influenced by his example.

5. On June 14, 1990, Judge Singzon decided Civil Case no. 1455 in Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED for ONE YEAR from the
favor of complainant Garcia and the other lessors. Lee did not practice of law and from the enjoyment of all the rights and privileges
appeal. Instead, on, June 21, 1990, through Francisco again, he filed appurtenant to membership in the Philippine bar.
a petition against Judge Singzon and the other lessors for certiorari
and annulment of the decision in Civil Case No. 1455 and damages Let a copy of this Resolution be served immediately on the
with prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction. This was docketed respondent and circularized to all courts and the Integrated Bar of the
as Civil case No. 90-5852 in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Philippines.
Branch 98, presided by Judge Cesar C. Paralejo.
SO ORDERED.
In Francisco's comment before us, he alleges that Civil Case No. Q-
90-5852 is an appeal from the unlawful detainer case. Again, he lies.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Civil Case No. Q-90-5852 was a specified civil action and not an
appeal.
SECOND DIVISION
On July 2, 1990, Garcia's group filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss
Civil Case No. 90-5852. On July 13, 1990, Judge Paralejo issued an A.C. No. 6198 September 15, 2006
order enjoining Judge Singzon from enforcing the decision in that
case. Garcia attacked this order in a petition for certiorari and RENATO M. MALIGAYA, complainant,
prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction docketed as CA Sp. vs.
No. 22392. The petition was granted by the Court of Appeals on ATTY. ANTONIO G. DORONILLA, JR., respondent.
September 19, 1991, on the ground that the judgment in the unlawful
detainer case had come final and executory as June 30, 1990. RESOLUTION

6. On September 24, 1991, Garcia filed a motion for execution in the CORONA, J.:
unlawful detainer case. On September 27, 1991, Lee, through
Francisco, filed a motion to inhibit Judge Singzon and to defer the Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. of the Judge Advocate General's
hearing of the motion. A writ of execution was nonetheless issued by Service is before us on a charge of unethical conduct for having
Judge Singzon on October 8, 1991.
uttered a falsehood in open court during a hearing of Civil Case No. Atty. Doronilla's unethical conduct was compounded, moreover, by
Q-99-38778.1 his obstinate refusal to acknowledge the impropriety of what he had
done. From the very beginning of this administrative case, Atty.
Civil Case No. Q-99-38778 was an action for damages filed by Doronilla maintained the untenable position that he had done nothing
complainant Renato M. Maligaya, a doctor and retired colonel of the wrong in the hearing of Civil Case No. Q-99-38778. He persisted in
Armed Forces of the Philippines, against several military officers for doing so even after having admitted that he had, in that hearing,
whom Atty. Doronilla stood as counsel. At one point during the spoken of an agreement that did not in truth exist. Rather than
February 19, 2002 hearing of the case, Atty. Doronilla said: express remorse for that regrettable incident, Atty. Doronilla resorted
to an ill-conceived attempt to evade responsibility, professing that the
falsehood had not been meant for the information of Judge Daway
And another matter, Your Honor. I was appearing in other
but only as "a sort of question" to complainant regarding a "pending
cases he [complainant Maligaya] filed before against the
proposal" to settle the case.18
same defendants. We had an agreement that if we
withdraw the case against him, he will also withdraw
all the cases. So, with that understanding, he even The explanation submitted by Atty. Doronilla, remarkable only for its
retired and he is now receiving pension.2 (emphasis speciousness,19 cannot absolve him. If anything, it leads us to
supplied) suspect an unseemly readiness on his part to obfuscate plain facts
for the unworthy purpose of escaping his just deserts. There is in his
favor, though, a presumption of good faith20 which keeps us from
Considering this to be of some consequence, presiding Judge
treating the incongruity of his proffered excuse as an indication of
Reynaldo B. Daway asked a number of clarificatory questions and
mendacity. Besides, in the light of his avowal that his only aim was
thereafter ordered Atty. Doronilla to put his statements in writing and
"to settle the case amicably among comrades in arms without going
"file the appropriate pleading."3Weeks passed but Atty. Doronilla
to trial,"21 perhaps it is not unreasonable to assume that what he
submitted no such pleading or anything else to substantiate his
really meant to say was that he had intended the misrepresentation
averments.
as a gambit to get the proposed agreement on the table, as it were.
But even if that had been so, it would have been no justification for
On April 29, 2002, Maligaya filed a complaint against Atty. Doronilla speaking falsely in court. There is nothing in the duty of a lawyer to
in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar foster peace among disputants that, in any way, makes it necessary
Discipline.4 The complaint, which charged Atty. Doronilla with under any circumstances for counsel to state as a fact that which is
"misleading the court through misrepresentation of facts resulting [in] not true. A lawyer's duty to the court to employ only such means as
obstruction of justice,"5 was referred to a commissioner6 for are consistent with truth and honor22 forbids recourse to such a
investigation. Complainant swore before the investigating tactic. Thus, even as we give Atty. Doronilla the benefit of the doubt
commissioner that he had never entered into any agreement to and accept as true his avowed objective of getting the parties to
withdraw his lawsuits.7 Atty. Doronilla, who took up the larger part of settle the case amicably, we must call him to account for resorting to
two hearings to present evidence and explain his side, admitted falsehood as a means to that end.
several times that there was, in fact, no such agreement.8 Later he
explained in his memorandum that his main concern was "to settle
Atty. Doronilla's offense is within the ambit of Section 27, Rule 138 of
the case amicably among comrades in arms without going to
the Rules of Court, which in part declares:
trial"9 and insisted that there was no proof of his having violated the
Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyer's oath.10 He
pointed out, in addition, that his false statement (or, as he put it, his A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from
"alleged acts of falsity") had no effect on the continuance of the case his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit x
and therefore caused no actual prejudice to complainant.11 x x or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before admission to practice x x x.
In due time, investigating commissioner Lydia A. Navarro submitted a
report and recommendation finding Atty. Doronilla guilty of purposely The suspension referred to in the foregoing provision means only
stating a falsehood in violation of Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code suspension from the practice of law. For this reason, we disagree
of Professional Responsibility12 and recommending that he be with the IBP's recommendation for Atty. Doronilla's suspension from
"suspended from the government military service as legal officer for a the government military service. After all, the only purpose of this
period of three months."13 This was adopted and approved in toto by administrative case is to determine Atty. Doronilla's liability as a
the IBP Board of Governors on August 30, 2003.14 member of the legal profession, not his liability as a legal officer in
the military service. Thus, it would be improper for us to order, as a
penalty for his breach of legal ethics and the lawyer's oath, his
There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers who, as
suspension from employment in the Judge Advocate General's
officers of the court, participate in the dispensation of justice, to
Service. Of course, suspension from employment as a military legal
behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and
officer may well follow as a consequence of his suspension from the
honor.15 The common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel
practice of law but that should not be reason for us to impose it as a
compelled to speak the truth and to act honestly should not become
penalty for his professional misconduct. We would be going beyond
a common reality.16 To this end, Canon 10 and Rule 10.01 of the
the purpose of this proceeding were we to do so. Therefore, we shall
Code of Professional Responsibility state:
treat the IBP's recommendation as one for suspension from the
practice of law.
CANON 10 – A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS,
AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
At any rate, we are not inclined to adopt the IBP's recommendation
on the duration of Atty. Doronilla's suspension. We need to consider
Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor a few circumstances that mitigate his liability somewhat. First, we
consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, give him credit for exhibiting enough candor to admit, during the
or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice. investigation, the falsity of the statement he had made in Judge
Daway's courtroom. Second, the absence of material damage to
By stating untruthfully in open court that complainant had agreed to complainant may also be considered as a mitigating
withdraw his lawsuits, Atty. Doronilla breached these peremptory circumstance.23 And finally, since this is Atty. Doronilla's first offense,
tenets of ethical conduct. Not only that, he violated the lawyer's oath he is entitled to some measure of forbearance.24
to "do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court," of
which Canon 10 and Rule 10.01 are but restatements. His act Nonetheless, his unrepentant attitude throughout the conduct of this
infringed on every lawyer's duty to "never seek to mislead the judge administrative case tells us that a mere slap on the wrist is definitely
or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law."17 not enough. Atty. Doronilla, it seems, needs time away from the
practice of law to recognize his error and to purge himself of the before the court and with other lawyers should be characterized by
misbegotten notion that an effort to compromise justifies the sacrifice candor and fairness" (now Canon 10 of the Code of Professional
of truthfulness in court. Responsibility prescribing that" [a] lawyer owes candor, fairness and
good faith to the courts"). He has been deplorably lacking in the
WHEREFORE, Atty. Antonio G. Doronilla, Jr. is candor required of him as a member of the Bar and an officer of the
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for TWO MONTHS. He court. In his apparent zeal to secure the title to the property involved
is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar misconduct shall for his clients, he disregarded his overriding duty to the court and to
be dealt with more severely. the law itself.

Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to his personal record and


RESOLUTION
copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of
the Court Administrator, the Chief-of-Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines and the Commanding General of the AFP Judge
PER CURIAM:
Advocate General's Service.

SO ORDERED. In a letter-complaint dated 9 May 1990 1 addressed to this Court,


complainant Teodoro I. Chavez prayed for the disbarment of or other
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX appropriate penalty upon respondent Escolastico R. Viola, a member
THIRD DIVISION of the Philippine Bar, for gross misconduct or malpractice.

[A.C. No. 2152. April 19, 1991.] The letter-complaint stated that respondent Viola was engaged by
Felicidad Alvendia, Jesus Alvendia and Jesus Alvendia, Jr. as their
TEODORO I. CHAVEZ, Complainant, v. ATTY. ESCOLASTICO R. counsel in connection with Civil Case No. 3330-M 2 filed sometime in
VIOLA, Respondent. 1966 with the then Court of First Instance ("CFI") of Bulacan against
Teodoro Chavez (herein complainant), Lucia dela Cruz, Alpon dela
Cruz and Eugenio dela Cruz. In the complaint, 3 respondent alleged,
on behalf of the Alvendias (plaintiffs therein), that Felicidad Alvendia
SYLLABUS and Jesus Alvendia were the holders of Foreshore Lease
Applications Nos. V-1284 and 2807 covering portions of public land
situated in Barrio Baluarte, Municipality of Bulacan, Province of
1. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEYS; PRACTICE OF LAW; NOT A Bulacan, and that lease contracts 4 had been executed in their favor
RIGHT BUT A PRIVILEGE. — It is well to stress again that the by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Respondent
practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on prayed in the complaint that his clients (the Alvendias) be declared
those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the "bona fide lessees of the land in controversy . . . ." 5 In an Order
qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. dated 2 October 1969, 6 the CFI dismissed the complaint filed in Civil
Case No. 3330-M for non-appearance of the Alvendias.
2. ID.; ID.; DUTY OF ATTORNEYS; FIRST DUTY OF LAWYERS IS
NOT TO THEIR CLIENTS BUT TO THE COURTS. — It cannot be On 18 June 1966, Congress passed Republic Act No. 470, which
gainsaid that candidness, especially towards the courts, is essential provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
for the expeditious administration of justice. Courts are entitled to
expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers "SECTION 1. The parcel of public domain comprising a portion of the
appearing and pleading before them. A lawyer, on the other hand, foreshore fronting the Manila Bay along the Province of Bulacan . . .
has the fundamental duty to satisfy that expectation. Otherwise, the is hereby withdrawn from sale or settlement and reserved for
administration of justice would gravely suffer if indeed it could communal fishing ground purposes which shall hereafter be called
proceed at all. It is essential that lawyers bear in mind at all times the Bulacan Fishing Reservation." 7 (Emphasis supplied)
that their first duty is not to their clients but rather to the courts, that
they are above all officers of court sworn to assist the courts in It appears that the foreshore land being occupied by the Alvendias
rendering justice to all and sundry, and only secondarily are they was part of the communal fishing ground reserved by Republic Act
advocates of the exclusive interests of their clients. For this reason, No. 470.
he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing
of any in court. On 8 November 1977, respondent filed, on behalf of the Alvendias,
Amended Application for Original Registration of Title 8 in Land
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — In the instant case, Registration Case ("LRC") No. 3711-M with the then CFI of Bulacan
respondent Viola alleged in an earlier pleading that his clients were praying that the land covered by Psu-141243, Amd. 2 9 be registered
merely lessees of the property involved. In his later pleading, he in the name of the spouses Alvendias. Respondent alleged in the
stated that the very same clients were owners of the same property. Amended Application that the applicant Alvendias were the owners of
One of these pleadings must have been false; it matters not which the land, they having acquired the same from one Teresita Vistan by
one. What does matter is that respondent, who, as a member of the sale sometime in 1929.
ancient and learned profession of the law, had sworn to do no
falsehood before the courts, did commit one. It was incumbent upon It is petitioner’s contention that respondent, in filing the Amended
respondent to explain how or why he committed no falsehood in Application for Original Registration of Title in LRC No. 3711-M
pleading two (2) incompatible things; he offered no explanation, other stating that his clients were the owners of the property applied for
than that he had not originated but merely continued the registration despite his full knowledge of the fact that his clients were mere
proceedings when he filed the Amended Application, and that he lessees of the land in controversy as so described in the complaint
really believed his clients were entitled to apply for registration of respondent had filed in Civil Case No. 3330-M, had willingly aided in
their rights. Respondent’s excuses ring very hollow; we agree with and consented to the pursuit, promotion and prosecution of a false
the Solicitor General and the complainant that those excuses do not and unlawful application for land registration, in violation of his oath
exculpate the Respondent. of office as a member of the Bar.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; LAWYER’S OATH AND CANON 22 OF THE In his Answer, 10 respondent alleged that the Application for Original
CANONS OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS, VIOLATED BY Registration of Title was originally instituted by one Atty.
RESPONDENT. — It is clear to the Court that respondent Viola Montesclaro, and when said lawyer withdrew his appearance therein,
violated his lawyer’s oath and as well Canon 22 of the Canons of respondent filed the Amended Application for Original Registration of
Professional Ethics which stated that" [t]he conduct of the lawyer Title; that he believed his clients had the right to apply for the
registration of the land; and that assuming his clients did not in fact of any in court. 16
have any such right, the court where the Application for Original
Registration of Title was filed had not yet passed upon it; hence, this In the instant case, respondent Viola alleged in an earlier pleading
complaint for disbarment was filed prematurely.cralawnad that his clients were merely lessees of the property involved. In his
later pleading, he stated that the very same clients were owners of
Complainant filed a Reply to the Answer. 11 the same property. One of these pleadings must have been false; it
matters not which one. What does matter is that respondent, who, as
In a Resolution dated 29 October 1980, the Court resolved to refer a member of the ancient and learned profession of the law, had
the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and sworn to do no falsehood before the courts, did commit one. It was
recommendation. incumbent upon respondent to explain how or why he committed no
falsehood in pleading two (2) incompatible things; he offered no
On 11 March 1981, respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss 12 the explanation, other than that he had not originated but merely
complaint for disbarment. In said Motion, he alleged — for the continued the registration proceedings when he filed the Amended
second time — that he was not the original lawyer who filed the Application, and that he really believed his clients were entitled to
application in the land registration case, but a certain Atty. apply for registration of their rights. Respondent’s excuses ring very
Montesclaro. Respondent further alleged:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph hollow; we agree with the Solicitor General and the complainant that
those excuses do not exculpate the Respondent.chanrobles law
". . . Your respondent, not content with just having conferred with library
Atty. Montesclaro when he took over, even went to the extent of
verifying from the Bureau of Lands if the application was proper. The It is clear to the Court that respondent Viola violated his lawyer’s oath
Legal Department of the Bureau of Lands assured your respondent and as well Canon 22 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which
that it was. He was informed that judicial application for registration is stated that" [t]he conduct of the lawyer before the court and with
one of the methods of acquiring such lands, said lands being other lawyers should be characterized by candor and fairness" (now
‘alienable and disposable.’ There are, however, other means of Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prescribing that"
obtaining the said lands, but the applicants (with Atty. Montesclaro) [a] lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the courts"). He
chose the present action for land registration. has been deplorably lacking in the candor required of him as a
member of the Bar and an officer of the court. In his apparent zeal to
Undersigned wishes to point out that he merely took over from the secure the title to the property involved for his clients, he disregarded
original lawyer when said counsel withdrew his appearance. Your his overriding duty to the court and to the law itself.
respondent, hence, was in good faith when he took over the land
registration case, subject matter of this present administrative WHEREFORE, finding respondent Escolastico R. Viola guilty of
investigation."cralaw virtua1aw library committing a falsehood in violation of his lawyer’s oath and of the
Canons of Professional Ethics (now the Code of Professional
The Court, in a Resolution dated 8 June 1981, forwarded the Motion Responsibility), the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from
to Dismiss to the Solicitor General. the practice of law for a period of five (5) months, with a WARNING
that commission of the same or similar offense in the future will result
In a Report 13 dated 28 February 1990, the Solicitor General stated in the imposition of a more severe penalty. A copy of this Resolution
that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph shall be spread on the personal record of respondent in the Office of
the Bar Confidant.
"In his answer to the letter complaint, respondent avers that his
clients, i.e., the Alvendias, have the right to apply for registration of
the land in question. However, respondent does not deny that he XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
prepared and signed the Amended Application for Original
Registration of Title in Land Reg. Case No. 3711-M wherein he Republic of the Philippines
alleged that the Alvendias are the owners of the land covered by Psu SUPREME COURT
141243, Amd. 2. Respondent does not offer any explanation at all as Manila
to why his submission in said application was diametrically opposite
to his allegations in the complaint in the earlier Civil Case No. 3330- FIRST DIVISION
M that the Alvendias were permittees and later the lessees of the
same property. G.R. No. L-69129 August 31, 1987
It is evident, then, that respondent has knowingly made a false
statement to the court in the land registration case. As proven by ROGELIO B. RAGASAJO, petitioner,
complaint, respondent has willingly aided and consented in the filing vs.
and prosecution of a groundless, if not false, application for land THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and THE INTESTATE
registration, in violation of his oath as a lawyer and member of the ESTATE OF FLORENTINO MANUNGAS, represented by its
bar. 14 Administratrix ENGRACIA N. MANUNGAS, respondents.

It is well to stress again that the practice of law is not a right but a
privilege bestowed by the State on those who show that they
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law GANCAYCO, J.:
for the conferment of such privilege. 15 One of those requirements is
the observance of honesty and candor. It cannot be gainsaid that This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus seeking the nullification
candidness, especially towards the courts, is essential for the of the Resolutions of the then Intermediate Appellate Court dated
expeditious administration of justice. Courts are entitled to expect August 10, 1984 and September 27, 1984, in AC-G.R. No. CV-
only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and 0719 * denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the
pleading before them. A lawyer, on the other hand, has the Resolution of June 25, 1984, declaring his appeal abandoned, and to
fundamental duty to satisfy that expectation. Otherwise, the command respondent court to admit petitioner's brief.
administration of justice would gravely suffer if indeed it could
proceed at all. It is essential that lawyers bear in mind at all times
The issue that emerges in this petition is whether or not the right to
that their first duty is not to their clients but rather to the courts, that
appeal which had been declared abandoned for failure to file
they are above all officers of court sworn to assist the courts in
appellant's brief within the period prescribed by the rules may be
rendering justice to all and sundry, and only secondarily are they
revived by the filing of a motion for reconsideration within the
advocates of the exclusive interests of their clients. For this reason,
reglementary period.
he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing
It appears that petitioner filed a civil suit for Cancellation of Acting upon the motion for reconsideration filed
Titles ** against the Intestate Estate of Florentino Manungas by counsel for plaintiff-appellant on July 30,
represented by Administratrix Engracia Manungas before the then 1984, the Court resolved to deny the motion, the
Court of First Instance of Davao, 16th Judicial District. 1 The same having been filed late.
complaint alleged among others that private respondent unlawfully
and wrongfully prepared a survey plan of Lot 866 by including 11,132 On August 25, 1984, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of
sq. m. of petitioner and fraudulently secured title in her favor. the Resolution of August 10, 1984, 9 while private respondent filed a
Respondent vehemently denied the accusation and alleged timely opposition thereto. 10
otherwise.
On September 27, 1984, respondent court denied petitioner's motion
After trial on the merits, the court a quo rendered a decision in favor of August 25, 1984.11 On October 12, 1984, the Resolution of June
of respondent and against herein petitioner, the dispositive part of 25, 1984, became final.
which reads as follows:
Hence, on October 26, 1984, petitioner filed the present
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: petitioner. ***

1) Upholding the validity of TCT Nos. T-30203, T- A perusal of the petition shows that the petitioner's cause of action is
30204, T-30205, T-30206, T-30207 and T-30208 predicated upon the respondent court's denial of his motion for
and ordering the cancellation of the notice of lis reconsideration of the Resolution of June 25, 1984, declaring
pendens from TCT No. T- 30203; petitioner's appeal abandoned. It is the position of the petitioner that
with the said denial, respondent court unlawfully deprived him of his
2) Nullifying OCT No. P-12853 and ordering the right to appeal considering that his motion for reconsideration was
plaintiff and his privies to vacate and surrender filed in due time. Petitioner maintains further that the respondent
the possession of the lots covered thereby, court acted with grave abuse of discretion in considering the day of
together with all improvements, free from liens receipt, July 30, 1984, as the date of filing, and thus denying his
and encumbrances, to Engracia Vda. de motion for reconsideration, whereas, he filed his motion on July 26,
Manungas and the Intestate Estate of Florentino 1984 through registered mail.
Manungas who are the true and lawful owners, it
appearing that the said plaintiff was a purchaser The right to appeal is not a natural right nor part of due process but
and builder in bad faith; merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner
and in accordance with the provisions of the law.12 It is the rule in
3) Ordering the plaintiff to pay to the this jurisdiction that an appeal from the Court of First Instance **** to
Manungases nominal damages of P15,000, plus the Court of Appeals may be taken by filing with the trial court within
P15,000 moral and P5,000, exemplary damages, thirty (30) days 13 from notice of order, or judgment a notice of
and attorney's fees of P5,000. appeal, an appeal bond and a record on appeal. 14 Upon receipt of
the printed copies of the record on appeal, the clerk shall ascertain
Costs against the plaintiff. 2 whether or not the transcript or exhibits have been elevated and if
not, shall cause this to be done. 15 Upon receipt of the transcript and
exhibits, the clerk shall notify both parties that all evidence, oral or
Petitioner appealed to the respondent Intermediate Appellate Court
documentary is already attached to the record. 16 From the notice of
by filing a notice of appeal. On November 16, 1983, petitioner
the Clerk of Court to the effect that all evidence, oral or documentary
through counsel, Occena Law Office, received a notice requiring him
is already attached to the record, it is the duty of the appellant to file
to pay a docket fee of P68.00 within fifteen (15) days from notice,
the printed brief with the Court of Appeals. 17
which the petitioner complied with on November 24, 1984, by
remitting Postal Money Order, F-5166765 under Office Receipt No.
2526531E On December 9, 1983, a notice requiring petitioner to file The record before Us shows that petitioner failed to comply with
the appellant's brief within forty-five (45) days from receipt was respondent court's order of December 9, 1984, requiring the filing of
mailed by the clerk of court of the Intermediate Appellate Court to the appellants' brief within forty-five (45) days from receipt thereof, the
Occena Law Office. 3 On December 29, 1983, petitioner's counsel notice of which was received by petitioner's counsel on December
received the notice to file brief. 4 29, 1984, as per registry return card, 18 a xerox copy of which was
made part of the record of this case with a corresponding certification
issued by respondent court's clerk of court. 19 Petitioner, instead of
On April 24, 1984, without any brief having been filed, and without
asking of this Court and that of the respondent court for liberality by
any motion for extension of time having been sought by petitioner,
stating that his failure to do so was due to excusable oversight,
private respondent filed an ex-parte motion to dismiss the appeal. 5
asserted that in fact no such notice to file brief was received in his
office. This pretension must fall for as above stated said counsel
In the Resolution of June 25, 1984, respondent court declared the received said notice to file brief on December 29, 1983 as shown by
appeal abandoned for failure of petitioner to file the required the registry return card.
brief. 6 On July 11, 1984, petitioner's counsel received the notice of
dismissal.
Under Rule 50 of the Rules, one of the grounds by which the Court of
Appeals may, on its own motion or that of the appellee, dismiss the
On July 26, 1984, petitioner filed with the respondent court a motion appeal is the failure on the part of appellant (or his printer) to serve
for reconsideration of the Resolution of June 25, 1984, and for and file the required number of copies of his brief within the time
admission of appellant's brief with one (1) copy of brief attached, prescribed by these rules.20 Under the said provision, the Court of
through registered mail, under Registry No. 4954 of Davao City Post Appeals has a discretion to dismiss or not to dismiss the appeal
Office and another copy served upon respondents' counsel under having in mind the circumstances obtaining in each case. In the
Registry Receipt No. 4953. On the same date, petitioner filed with present case, from the date of receipt of notice to file brief on
respondent court six (6) more copies of the brief through air cargo December 29, 1983, there being no extension of time sought, the
under Airway Bill No. 216733 of the Allied Brokerage Corporation, forty-five (45) days lapsed on February 12, 1984. Thus the
Davao City. On July 30, 1984, respondent court received petitioner's Resolution of respondent court of June 25, 1984 declaring the appeal
motion for reconsideration. 7 abandoned is in order.

On August 10, 1984, respondent court, considering the day of receipt


as the date of filing, issued a resolution 8which reads thus:
It is however the position of the petitioner that his motion for RODRIGO A. MOLINA, Complainant,
reconsideration should not have been denied as it was filed in due vs.
time. ATTY. CEFERINO R. MAGAT, Respondent.

The petitioner's motion was filed through registered mail on July 26, DECISION
1984, which was the last day of the 15-day period of appeal since
petitioner received notice of the order of dismissal on July 11, 1984. MENDOZA, J.:
The date of mailing shall be considered as the date of
filing.21 Contrary to the finding of respondent court, the said motion
Before the Court is the undated Resolution1 of the Board of
was filed on time.
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)finding Atty.
Ceferino R. Magat (Atty. Magat) liable for unethical conduct and
In the motion for reconsideration the petitioner failed to show that it recommending that he be reprimanded.
was due to excusable negligence or oversight that the brief was not
filed on time nor did petitioner demonstrate the merit of his appeal.
The Facts:
The respondent court therefore did not err in denying the motion for
reconsideration even if We overlook its error in considering the
motion to have been filed out of time. The case stemmed from a complaint for disbarment2 filed by Rodrigo
A. Molina (complainant) against Atty. Magat before the Court on May
5, 1978. The complaint alleged, among others, that complainant filed
The court would like to stress that the attempt of counsel for
cases of Assault Upon an Agent of a Person in Authority and Breach
petitioner to mislead the court by denying he ever received the notice
of the Peace and Resisting Arrest against one Pascual de Leon (de
to file brief when in fact he did is noted with disapproval by the court.
Leon) before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Manila; that the
As an officer of the court he must conduct himself with candor and
counsel of record for accused de Leon in both cases was Atty.
sincerity towards the courts. His dedication to the cause of his client
Magat; that a case for slight physical injuries was filed against him
is no excuse. He does more damage to his client and to his standing
(Molina) by de Leon as a counter-charge and Atty. Magat was also
as a member of the Philippine Bar in so doing. Let this serve as a
the private prosecutor; that Atty. Magat subsequently filed a motion
warning.
to quash the information on Assault upon an Agent of a Person in
Authority on the sole ground of double jeopardy claiming that a
Nevertheless the court examined the judgment of the lower court similar case for slight physical injuries was filed in court by a certain
sought to be reviewed, wherein the trial court found, among others, Pat. Molina (Molina); that based on the record, no case of slight
that contrary to the claim of petitioner that the transfer certificates of physical injuries was filed by Molina against de Leon; that Atty.
title covering the properties of private respondent had encroached Magat was very much aware of such fact as he was the counsel and
upon the titled properties of petitioner, it is the certificates of title private prosecutor on record of de Leon from the very start of the
covering the properties of petitioner that encroached into the case way back on May 24, 1974; that Atty. Magat’s act of filing the
properties of private respondent by an area of approximately 11,132 Motion to Quash was a malicious act done in bad faith to mislead the
square meters. 22 On the assumption that this finding of the lower court, thus, a betrayal of the confidence of the court of which he is an
court is supported by the evidence, and considering the contention of officer; and that Atty. Magat likewise committed willful disobedience
petitioner in his appeal brief filed in the Court of Appeals that his of the court order when he appeared as counsel for de Leon on two
property covered by TCT No. T-12852 has an area of 5,695 square (2) occasions despite the fact that he was suspended from the
meters, while his property covered by OCT P- 12853 has an area of practice of law.
34,118 square meters, or a total of 39,813 square meters for both
properties. 23 then the trial court appears to have committed an error
In his Answer,3 Atty. Magat averred that in so far as the filing of the
in cancelling said OCT No. P-12853 of petitioner and awarding
motion to quash was concerned, he was really under the impression
possession and ownership of the entire property to private
that a criminal case in lieu of the two (2) charges was indeed filed
respondent. Only the portion of the said property of private
and that the said motion was opposed by the other party and was
respondent encroached upon by petitioner should be returned to said
denied by the court. He admitted his appearances in court while
respondent and only to this extent should the title of petitioner be
under suspension. He explained that his appearance in the
cancelled and nullified.
December 21, 1977 hearing was to inform the court that the accused
was sick and to prevent the issuance of a warrant of arrest against
Unfortunately, since the judgment has now become final, the herein the accused. In the January 9, 1978 hearing, he appeared because
petition may not be given due course under the circumstances of the the accused had no money and pleaded that his testimony be
case so that this apparent injustice that appears to have been finished. Atty. Magat begged for the indulgence of the court and
committed cannot be corrected in this proceeding. Indeed petitioner conveyed his repentance and apology and promised that the same
did not even raise this issue in the petition. Nevertheless, at the time would not happen again.
of enforcement of the judgment petitioner may invoke the power of
the lower court to correct the ambiguity in the dispositive part and/or
The complaint was endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor
such clerical error therein so that it may conform to the findings and
General (OSG) for investigation, report and
conclusion of the Court as embodied in the body of the judgment. 24
recommendation.4 Thereafter, the OSG transmitted the records of the
case to the IBP for proper disposition.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit without
pronouncement as to costs.
In his Report and Recommendation5 dated March 20, 2009, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline found merit in the complaint and
SO ORDERED. recommended that Atty. Magat be reprimanded and fined
₱50,000.00. It stated that:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
This Commission finds it hard to believe that respondent would have
Republic of the Philippines mistakenly been under the impression that a case for physical
SUPREME COURT injuries was filed against his client when there was no such case
Manila filed. Respondent was either negligently reckless or he had
mischievous intentions to deceive the trial court. In any case, he
THIRD DIVISION committed a transgression for which he should be punished.

A.C. No. 1900 June 13, 2012 However, the graver sin of respondent is, and this he admits, that he
appeared as counsel before a trial court on at least two (2) occasions
notwithstanding the fact that he had been suspended by the SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court;
Supreme Court from the practice of law. Despite professing his grounds therefor. — A member of the bar may be disbarred or
contrition in his Answer, this Commission is not convinced. suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any
Otherwise, respondent should have had, at the onset of the deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly
proceedings, admitted to his misdeeds and put his fate squarely with immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
the disciplinary body. Yet, he proceeded to fight the charges against moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
him. take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any
lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing
Moreover, if respondent was indeed moved by altruistic intentions as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The
when he made those appearances before the trial court despite practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
having been suspended, he could have so informed the Presiding personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
Judge of his plight and explained why the party he was representing [Underlining supplied]
could not attend. Yet, what he proceeded to do was to enter his
appearance as counsel. Indeed, it is beyond doubt he trifled with the As stated, if Atty. Magat was truly moved by altruistic intentions when
suspension order handed by the Supreme Court. he appeared before the trial court despite having been suspended,
he could have informed the Presiding Judge of his plight and
If there is one thing going for respondent, it is that the passage of explained why the party he was representing could not attend. On
time with which this case remains pending makes it difficult to impose the contrary, Atty. Magat kept his silence and proceeded to represent
a penalty of suspension on him. Under normal circumstances, this his client as counsel.
Commission would not have thought twice of suspending
respondent. However, the acts committed by respondent occurred WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ceferino R. Magat is hereby
over TWENTY (20) YEARS ago. It would not be fair to now impose a ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months with
suspension on respondent, more so considering that he is, in all a WARNING that the commission of the same or similar offense in
likelihood, in the twilight of his career. the future would be dealt with more severely.

On the other hand, there is still a need to discipline respondent if only SO ORDERED.
to set an example to other lawyers that suspension orders of the
Supreme Court cannot simply be ignored. Thus, it is the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
recommendation of the undersigned that respondent be meted a fine
of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (₱ 50,000.00) and that he be heavily FIRST DIVISION
reprimanded for his actions, the passage of time notwithstanding.6
PABLO R. OLIVARES and/or A.C. No. 6323
On May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors passed its OLIVARES REALTY
Resolution7 adopting the findings of the Investigating Commissioner. CORPORATION,
It, however, deleted the imposition of fine. Complainants, Present:

ATTY. ARSENIO C.
The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP but not with respect to
VILLALON, JR.,
the penalty.
Respondent. Promulgated:

The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that April 13, 2007
they possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications for it.
Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair
dealing. They must perform their four-fold duty to society, the legal
profession, the courts and their clients, in accordance with the values R E S O L U T I O N
and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility.8 CORONA, J.:

Atty. Magat’s act clearly falls short of the standards set by the Code
of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 10.01, which This is a complaint[1] for disbarment and suspension[2] against
provides: respondent Atty. Arsenio C. Villalon, Jr. by Pablo R. Olivares and/or
Olivares Realty Corporation for violation of Rule 12.02, Canon 12 of
Rule 10.01 – A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the the Code of Professional Responsibility and the rule on forum
doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be shopping.
misled by any artifice.
In his complaint, Olivares alleged that respondents client, Sarah Divina
In this case, the Court agrees with the observation of the IBP that Morales Al-Rasheed, repeatedly sued him for violations of the lease
there was a deliberate intent on the part of Atty. Magat to mislead the contract which they executed over a commercial apartment in Olivares
court when he filed the motion to dismiss the criminal charges on the Building in Paraaque.[3]
basis of double jeopardy. Atty. Magat should not make any false and
untruthful statements in his pleadings. If it were true that there was a In 1993, Al-Rasheed filed an action for damages and prohibition with
similar case for slight physical injuries that was really filed in court, all prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction in the Regional Trial Court
he had to do was to secure a certification from that court that, indeed, of Manila.[4] The case was dismissed for improper venue.[5]
a case was filed.
Six years later, on July 1, 1999, Al-Rasheed filed an action
for breach of contract with damages in the Regional Trial Court of
Furthermore, Atty. Magat expressly admitted appearing in court on Paraaque, Branch 274. [6] The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-
two occasions despite having been suspended from the practice of 0233, was dismissed for failure to prosecute.[7] Al-Rasheed, through
law by the Court. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a counsel Atty. Villalon, sought a review of the order dismissing Civil
member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from office as an Case No. 99-0233 but the Court of Appeals did not give due course to
attorney for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior her appeal.[8] The subsequent petition for review on certiorari filed in
court and/or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney without the Supreme Court was likewise denied. [9]
authority to do so.1âwphi1 It provides:
On January 29, 2004, Al-Rasheed re-filed the 1999 suit in
the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 274[10] where it was A lawyers fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the
docketed as Civil Case No. 0J-04-009.[11] It was dismissed on the expense of truth and justice.[28] Lawyers have the duty to assist in the
grounds of res judicata and prescription.[12] speedy and efficient administration of justice. Filing multiple actions
constitutes an abuse of the Courts processes. It constitutes improper
Respondent, on the other hand, asserts that he was only conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade justice. Those who
performing his legal obligation as a lawyer to protect and prosecute file multiple or repetitive actions subject themselves to disciplinary
the interests of his client.[13] He denied that he was forum shopping as action for incompetence or willful violation of their duties as attorneys
his client, in her certificate of non-forum shopping,[14] disclosed the two to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such
previous cases involving the same cause of action which had been actions that appear to be just and consistent with truth and honor.[29]
filed and dismissed.[15] Respondent further claims he could not refuse
his clients request to file a new case because Al-Rasheed was the Everything considered, this Court finds that a reprimand is
oppressed party in the transaction.[16] insufficient and rules instead that CBDs recommendation for a six-
month suspension from the practice of law to be more commensurate
This Court referred the complaint, together with respondents to the violation committed. However, in view of respondents death on
comment, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for September 27, 2006,[30] the penalty can no longer be imposed on
investigation, report and recommendation.[17] him. This development has, in effect, rendered this disciplinary case
The Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the IBP found moot and academic.
that respondent assisted Al-Rasheed in repeatedly suing Olivares for
the same cause of action and subject matter.[18] It opined that SO ORDERED.
respondent should have noted that the 1999 case was dismissed for
lack of interest to prosecute.[19] Under Rule 17, Section 3 of the Rules xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
of Court, such dismissal had the effect of an adjudication on the
merits.[20] The CBD recommended the suspension of respondent for THIRD DIVISION
six months with a warning that any similar infraction in the future would
be dealt with more severely.[21]
A.C. No. 4947 February 14, 2005
The IBP adopted and approved the findings of the CBD that
respondent violated Rule 12.02, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional ROSA YAP-PARAS, petitioner,
Responsibility as well as the proscription on forum shopping. It, vs.
however, modified the recommended penalty to reprimand.[22] ATTY. JUSTO PARAS, respondent.

We adopt the findings of the IBP except its recommendation RESOLUTION


as to the penalty.
GARCIA, J.:
All lawyers must bear in mind that their oaths are neither
mere words nor an empty formality. When they take their oath as Before us is this verified Petition1 filed by Rosa Yap-Paras praying for
lawyers, they dedicate their lives to the pursuit of justice. They accept the disbarment of her estranged husband Atty. Justo Paras on
the sacred trust to uphold the laws of the land. [23] As the first Canon of alleged acts of deceit, malpractice, grave misconduct, grossly
the Code of Professional Responsibility states, [a] lawyer shall uphold immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer.
the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.[24] Moreover, according to the lawyers oath they
On 18 January 1989, respondent filed his comment2 to the Petition.
took, lawyers should not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the
same.[25] In a Resolution dated 10 February 1999,3 the Court referred the case
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report
With all this in mind, respondent should have refrained from and recommendation.
filing the second complaint against Olivares. He ought to have known
that the previous dismissal was with prejudice since it had the effect of The background facts are summarized in a Report and
an adjudication on the merits. There was no excuse not to know this Recommendation dated 13 January 20044 of Commissioner Lydia A.
elementary principle of procedural law. Navarro of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, which Report
reads in part, as follows:
The facts of this case reveal that Atty. Villalon purposely filed
the second complaint. Respondent appealed the 1999 case to the "Complainant alleged that on February 9, 1965 the children of
Court of Appeals and subsequently to this Court. Both actions were Ledesma de Jesus Paras-Sumabong namely Conegunda, Justo,
dismissed for lack of merit, not on mere technicality. The certificate of Corazon, Carmen and Cataluna all surnamed Paras executed a
non-forum shopping attached to the 2004 complaint disclosed that Al- Special Power of Attorney prepared by the respondent to sell parcels
Rasheed previously sued Olivares for violating their lease contract. As of land located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental giving authority
if such disclosure was a sufficient justification, Atty. Villalon to their mother to sell the subject real properties previously registered
unapologetically reproduced his 1999[26] arguments and assertions in in the name of the heirs of Vicente Paras wherein respondent was
the 2004[27] complaint. Respondent obviously knew the law and tried one of the signatories therein.
to go around it. This Court therefore concludes that respondent willfully
violated Rule 12.02, Canon 12 which provides that: Complainant alleged that on May 4, 1966 on the basis of said Special
Power of Attorney, Ledesma J. Paras-Sumabang executed a Deed of
Absolute Sale in favor of Aurora Dy-Yap over the subject real
A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from property located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental which was
the same cause. with the respondent’s full knowledge since he was residing at the
house of Soledad Dy-Yap at that time and from that time, the Yap
family had been in possession of the subject real property up to the
Furthermore, he violated Rule 10.03, Canon 10 of the Code present.
of Professional Responsibility:
Complainant alleged that sometime in June 1998 her attention was
A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and called to the fact that a free patent title to the aforesaid property was
shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. issued in respondent’s name and upon verification with the DENR,
Bureau of Lands, Dumaguete City, complainant was able to get prevent the properties from being given by the government to some
copies of the documents for lot Nos. 660, 490 and 585 pertaining to other qualified persons. He allegedly applied for issuance of free
the Notice of Application for Free Patent dated April 2, 1985 signed patent in good faith and thereafter took dominion and control of the
by the respondent; over the aforesaid lots previously sold by properties in the concept of a legitimate owner under authority of a
Ledesma de Jesus to Aurora D. Yap; Quitclaim/Renunciation of gratuitous grant of the government.
Property Rights and Interest Over Real Property executed by
Ledesma de Jesus dated May 28, 1985; Letter of Application dated Respondent alleged that complainant or any member of her family
April 2, 1985 signed by respondent under oath before Apolonio Tan much less American citizen Aurora Dy Yap had not made any prior
authorized officer to administer oath; Letter of Certification signed by demand for the return of the questioned properties; nor filed a
Apolonio Tan dated June 4, 1985 and Order of Approval dated complaint under the Katarungang Pambarangay Law; nor filed an
August 19, 1985 signed by District Land Officer Teopisto L. Gallozo administrative remedy before the DENR for the cancellation and
with a Free Patent No. 328 in the name of respondent Justo J. Paras. reversion/transfer of the Free Patent and Title to them; nor brought
any action in any civil court for either quieting of title, or cancellation
Complainant alleged that the aforementioned application was made of free patent title or recovery of ownership or whatever.
by the respondent without her knowledge and consent and those
acts of deceit, machinations and falsification of documents were Respondent alleged that even without such civil court determination
deliberately willfully, and maliciously committed by the respondent in on whether or not complainant or her family were qualified to become
violation of Art. 172 in relation to Art. 171 of the RPC; in betrayal of grantee of a government gratuitous grant of public agricultural land, if
his oath as a lawyer and a transgression of the Canons of the Honorable Supreme Court will decide that complainant, her
Professional Responsibility.1ªvvphi1.nét mother, brothers and sisters were within the ambit of the term natural
born citizen or native citizens under the 1946 Constitution and to
Complainant alleged that respondent surreptitiously obtained a free them rightfully belong the ownership of the questioned titled public
patent title over real properties which had been previously sold by his agricultural lands; and that he can never be guilty of the Anti-Dummy
own mother to Aurora D. Yap and now still under the control and Law consequent to such cession, respondent alleged that he will
possession of complainant’s natural family, a fact respondent gladly deliver and transfer title to them.
allegedly withheld from the Bureau of Lands which he had full
knowledge in successfully causing the release of a free patent in his Respondent alleged that he sought and prayed for recovery of
name and unjustly and unlawfully deprived the rightful owners of their possession of all conjugal/communal properties including the herein
legitimate title to the said property in betrayal of the court to pervert questioned properties for after he left the conjugal home in 1988
the administration of justice in gross violation of his oath of office. possession of all these properties, real and personal were until now
with the complainant and her biological family.1ªvvphi1.nét
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent prayed for the outright dismissal of the petition for lack
In his Comment, respondent alleged that complainant was obviously of merit."
not the owner of the properties and considering that the properties
were applied for free patent titling during their marital union prior to Complainant subsequently filed a Reply5 to respondent’s Comment,
its breakage, complainant was likewise a communal owner thereof therein refuting respondent’s claims that he was used as a "dummy"
and as such was also complaining against herself. since complainant and her siblings had previously acquired Free
Patents in their names. Complainant further alleged that respondent
Respondent alleged that later on, a great portion of the public lands is morally unfit to continue to be an officer of the court because of his
classified as forested zone in Matobato were declared and falsely declaring under oath that he had been occupying the subject
reclassified into public agricultural lands, then publicly surveyed and real property since 1985 when in fact he did not and was never in
parcelized by lots identified in the survey map based on actual or occupation/possession thereof.
known occupants; then the Bureau of Lands allegedly made a public
announcement that the lands were available for private ownership On 27 August 1999, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an
thru Free Patent Application available only to native settlers or Order6 noting the filing of the last pleading and setting the instant
natural born Filipinos. case for hearing. Several hearings7 were conducted wherein
complainant presented all her witnesses together with their
Respondent alleged that none of the Yaps including complainant respective affidavits and supporting documents8 , which were all
being native or natural born Filipinos muchless Aurora D. Yap who in subjected to cross-examination by the respondent. Likewise,
1985 was said to be already an American citizen; complainant and respondent presented his Counter-Affidavit9 and supporting
her family; the Yaps prevailed upon him to apply for free patent over documents.
said questioned properties for the reason that respondent had
already occupied the properties; introduced improvements thereon; Based on the foregoing, the Investigating Commissioner concluded
acted as owner thereof; and could easily align his right to the her Report and made a recommendation, as follows:
property which had been identified in the public survey as "Heirs of
Vicente Paras", otherwise the questioned properties allegedly
"From the facts obtaining respondent committed deceit and
according to the Yaps will be applied for and awarded to other
falsehood in having applied for free patent over lands owned by
qualified natural born Filipinos.
another over which he had no actual physical possession being
aware of the fact that the same was previously transferred in the
Respondent alleged that Free Patent Application was filed by him name of Aurora Yap; an act which adversely reflected on his fitness
over the communal property of him and the complainant as well as to practice law in violation of Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of
those purchased by him including the portion whose occupancy of a Professional Responsibility.
public land was purchased by Aurora D. Yap from Ledesma Vda de
Paras upon the prodding of the Yaps for all of them were not
"It is immaterial as to who instituted the complaint for as long as there
qualified to apply for ownership of an agricultural public land via free
was a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
patent; none of them being a natural born Filipino or native settler
partakes the nature of proper disciplinary action pursuant to Section
and were disqualified from a gratuitous grant of public land from the
1, Rule 139-B of the Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys.
government.
"Wherefore in view of the foregoing, the Undersigned respectfully
Respondent alleged that the whole idea of giving to him and the
recommends for the suspension of Atty. Justo Paras from the
complainant the properties was hatched and executed by the Yaps,
practice of his law profession for a period of three (3) months from
most particularly Atty. Francisco D. Yap to circumvent the law and
receipt hereof.
"It is also hereby recommended that the IBP Chapter wherein to act with the highest standard of truthfulness, fair play and nobility
respondent Paras is a registered member be furnished a copy of the in the conduct of litigation and in their relations with their clients, the
Order and notified of the said suspension for proper enforcement." opposing parties, the other counsels and the courts. They are bound
by their oath to speak the truth and to conduct themselves according
Via Resolution No. XVI-2004-120 dated 27 February 2004,10 the IBP to the best of their knowledge and discretion, and with fidelity to the
Board of Governors adopted the Report of the Investigating courts and their clients. x x x"
Commissioner but modified the latter’s recommended penalty by
recommending that respondent be suspended from the practice of In the instant case, it is clear to the Court that respondent violated his
law for six (6) months for violation of Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code lawyer’s oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility
of Professional Responsibility. which mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to society and to the
courts, the obligation to obey the laws of the land and to do no
The case is now before us for confirmation. falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court. Respondent has
been deplorably lacking in the candor required of him as a member
of the Bar and an officer of the court in his acts of applying for the
We agree with the IBP Board of Governors that respondent should
issuance of a free patent over the properties in issue despite his
be sanctioned. We find, however, that the recommended penalty is
knowledge that the same had already been sold by his mother to
not commensurate to the gravity of the wrong perpetrated.
complainant’s sister. This fact, respondent even admitted in the
comment that he filed before this Court when he alleged that the said
The Court has always reminded that a lawyer shall at all times properties were public land under the Forestal Zone "when the
uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession11 as the bar mother of the respondent ceded to Aurora Yap some portions of
should always maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well entire occupancy of the Parases"17 . Moreover, respondent
as of honesty and fair dealing among its members. By and large, a committed deceit and falsehood in his application for free patent over
lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing the said properties when he manifested under oath that he had been
his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients.12 To in the actual possession and occupation of the said lands despite the
this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fact that these were continuously in the possession and occupation
fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of complainant’s family, as evidenced no less by respondent’s own
and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of statements in the pleadings filed before the IBP.
the legal profession.13
Anent his argument questioning the status of complainant and her
In Marcelo v. Javier14 , we held: family as "natural born citizens", this Court holds that the instant case
is not the proper forum to address such issue. Furthermore, as
"It bears stressing that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened correctly held by the Investigating Commissioner, "[i]t is immaterial as
with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege and right to practice law to who instituted the complaint for as long as there was a violation of
during good behavior and can only be deprived of it for misconduct the Code of Professional Responsibility". Likewise, any other action
ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after opportunity which the parties may make against each other has no material
to be heard has been afforded him. Without invading any bearing in this case. For, it must be remembered that administrative
constitutional privilege or right, an attorney’s right to practice law may cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are
be resolved by a proceeding to suspend or disbar him, based on distinct from and may proceed independently of civil and criminal
conduct rendering him unfit to hold a license or to exercise the duties cases.
and responsibilities of an attorney. It must be understood that the
purpose of suspending or disbarring an attorney is to remove from In line herewith, this Court in In re Almacen,18 held:
the profession a person whose misconduct has proved him unfit to
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the
"Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like
office of an attorney, and thus to protect the public and those
the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal,
charged with the administration of justice, rather than to punish the
this proceeding is not – and does not involve – a trial of an action or
attorney.
a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of
its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense
"An attorney may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a
oath or of his duties as an attorney and counsellor which include the prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio.
statutory grounds enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for
Court. These statutory grounds are so broad as to cover practically determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be
any misconduct of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. It allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
is a settled rule that the enumeration of the statutory grounds for disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar
disciplinary action is not exclusive and a lawyer may be disciplined to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in
on grounds other than those specifically provided in the law. view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper
Generally a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of
misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no
shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court, or pertaining to the office of an attorney. xxx"
an unfit or unsafe person to enjoy the privileges and to manage the
business of others in the capacity of an attorney, or for conduct which
The facts and evidence obtaining in the instant case indubitably
tends to bring reproach on the legal profession or to injure it in the
reveal respondent’s failure to live up to his duties as a lawyer in
favorable opinion of the public."
consonance with the strictures of the lawyer’s oath and the Code of
Professional Responsibility, thereby occasioning sanction from this
Indeed, the practice of law is not a right but merely a privilege Court.
bestowed by the State upon those who show that they possess, and
continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the
At this juncture, we take note that on 18 October 2000, in our
conferment of such privilege.15 One of those requirements is the
Decision in A.C. No. 5333 formerly A.C. No. CBD-371, entitled
observance of honesty and candor.
Rosa Yap Paras v. Atty. Justo de Jesus Paras, respondent was
previously meted with suspension from the practice of law for six (6)
And in the recent case of Bergonia v. Merrera16 , we ruled: months on the charge of falsifying his wife’s signature in bank
documents and other related loan instruments, and for one (1) year
"Candor in all their dealings is the very essence of a practitioner’s
honorable membership in the legal profession. Lawyers are required
from the practice of law on the charges of immorality and On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition
abandonment of his own family. for Certiorari, Prohibition and mandamus (G.R. Nos. 79690-707)
naming as respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul
Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light of M. Gonzalez. Among other things, petitioner assailed: (1) the 5
respondent’s prior misdemeanors for which he was penalized with a February 1987 Resolution 1 of the "Tanodbayan" recommending
six (6) month and one (1) year suspension from the practice of law, the filing of criminal informations against petitioner Zaldivar and
his deplorable behavior in the present case which grossly degrades his co-accused in TBP Case No. 86-00778; and (2) the 1
the legal profession warrants the imposition of a much graver September 1987 Resolution 2 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal
penalty.1ªvvphi1.nét Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 1216312177 denying his Motion to
Quash the criminal informations filed in those cases by the
"Tanodbayan." In this respect, petitioner alleged that
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Justo J. Paras guilty of
respondent Gonzalez, as Tanodbayan and under the provisions
committing a falsehood in violation of his lawyer’s oath and of the
of the 1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with power and
Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court Resolved to
authority independently to investigate and to institute criminal
SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
cases for graft and corruption against public officials and
year, with a WARNING that commission of the same or similar
employees, and hence that the informations filed in Criminal
offense in the future will result in the imposition of a more severe
Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 were all null and void.
penalty.

On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which


Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the IBP, as well as the
read:
Office of the Bar Confidant and the Court Administrator who shall
circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance and
likewise be entered in the record of respondent as attorney. G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs.
The Honorable Sandiganbayan and Honorable
Raul M. Gonzalez, Claiming To Be and Acting
SO ORDERED.
as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987
Constitution ).—Acting on the special civil
Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx action for certiorari, prohibition and
mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of
.R. Nos. 79690-707 October 7, 1988 Court, with urgent motion for preliminary
elimination injunction, the Court Resolved,
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, without giving due course to the petition, to
vs. require the respondents to COMMENT
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL thereon, within ten (10) days from notice.
M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-
Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution, respondents. The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER,
G.R. No. 80578 October 7, 1988 effective immediately and continuing until
further orders from this Court, ordering
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, respondent Sandiganbayan to CEASE and
vs. DESIST from hearing and trying Criminal
HON. RAUL M. GONZALEZ, claiming to be and acting as Cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 to
Tanodbayan-Ombudsman ombudsman under the 1987 12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is
Constitution, respondent. concerned and from hearing and resolving
the Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend
dated September 3, 1987.

The parties later filed their respective pleadings.


PER CURIAM:
Petitioner Zaldivar filed with this Court a second Petition for
The following are the subjects of this Resolution:
certiorari and Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19 November
1987, initially naming only Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as
1) a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by respondent. That Petition assailed the 24 September 1987
petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public respondent Special Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 87- 01304
Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzalez, in recommending that additional criminal charges for graft and
connection with G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578. and 2) corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other
a Resolution of this Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring individuals. Once again, petitioner raised the argument of the
respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to show cause why he should Tanodbayan's lack of authority under the 1987 Constitution to file
not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to administrative such criminal cases and to investigate the same. Petitioner also
sanctions for making certain public statements. moved for the consolidation of that petition with G.R. No. 79690-707.

I In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving


due course to the second petition: (1) required respondent Gonzalez
The pertinent facts are as follows: to submit a comment thereon: and (2) issued a temporary restraining
order "ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and
Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 ... and
Cases Nos. particularly, from filing the criminal information consequent thereof
12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and and from conducting preliminary investigation therein." In a separate
Corrupt Practices Act) pending before the Sandiganbayan. The resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No.
Office of the Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary 80578 were ordered consolidated by the Court.
investigation and filed the criminal informations in those cases
(originally TBP Case No. 86-00778). In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days
prior to issuance by this Court of a temporary restraining order in
G.R. No. 80578, the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal
Case No. 12570 6 with the Sandiganbayan which issued on 23 people have been thinking that only the small fly
November 1987 an Order of Arrest 7 for petitioner Zaldivar and his can get it while big fishes go scot-free."
co-accused in Criminal Case No. 12570. Upon Motion 8 of petitioner
Zaldivar, this Court issued the following Resolution on 8 December Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the
1987: tribunal last week after Zaldivar petitioned the
court to stop the Tanodbayan from investigating
G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. graft cases filed against him.
Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan). The
motion filed by the Solicitor General for Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased
respondents for an extension of thirty (30) days in his investigations because the latter wanted to
from the expiration of the original period within help promote the political fortunes of a friend
which to file comment on the petition for certiorari from Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan.
and prohibition with prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction or restraining order is
Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court
GRANTED.
stopped Gonzalez from investigating a graft
charge against the governor, and from instituting
Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat any complaint with the Sandiganbayan.
the Sandiganbayan as party-respondent, the
Court Resolved to (a) Consider IMPLEADED the
While President Aquino had been prodding me to
Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In
prosecute graft cases even if they involve the
pursuance of and supplementing the Temporary
high and mighty, the Supreme Court had been
Restraining Order of November 24, 1987
restraining me. Gonzalez said.
"ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez to
CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP
Case No. 87-01304 entitled, "Commission on In accordance with the President's order,
Audit vs. Gov. Enrique Zaldivar, et al." and Gonzalez said he had filed graft cases against
particularly, from filing the criminal information two "very powerful" officials of the Aquino
consequent thereof and from conducting government-Commissioner Quintin Doromal of
preliminary investigation therein" ISSUE a the Presidential Commission on Good
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER effective Government and Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dianlan of
immediately and continuing until further orders the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural
from this Court, ordering respondents Hon. Raul Communities.
M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to CEASE and
DESIST from further acting in Criminal Case No. While I don't wish to discuss the merits of the
12570, entitled, "People of the Philippines vs. Zaldivar petition before the Supreme Court, I am
Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al." and from enforcing a little bit disturbed that (the order) can aggravate
the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan the thinking of some people that affluent persons
in said case. can prevent the progress of a trial, he said.

The Solicitor General filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No. He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief
80578, and we required the petitioner to submit a Reply 10 thereto. Executive over the weekend and that while she
symphatizes with local officials who are charged
On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion in court during election time, 'She said that it
to Cite in Contempt 11 directed at respondent Gonzalez. The Motion might be a disservice to the people and the
cited as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused voters who are entitled to know their candidates.
the filing of the information against petitioner in Criminal Case No.
12570 before the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly Gonzalez said that while some cases filed
contemptuous statements to the media in relation to the proceedings against local officials during election time could
in G.R. No. 80578. In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his be mere harassment suits, the Constitution
Motion a photocopy of a news article, reproduced here in toto, which makes it a right of every citizen to be informed of
appeared in the 30 November 1987 issue of the "Philippine Daily the character of tile candidate, who should be
Globe:" subject to scrutiny. (Emphasis supplied)

Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16
February 1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to COMMENT on
TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said aforesaid Motion within ten (10) days from notice." 12 On 27 April
yesterday the Supreme Court order stopping him 1988, the Court rendered its Decision 13 (per curiam) in the
from investigating graft cases involving Antique Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive portion thereof read:
Gov. Enrique Zaldivar can aggravate the thought
that affluent persons "an prevent the progress of WHEREFORE, We hereby:
a trial."
(1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by
What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the petitioner Zaldivar and hereby NULLIFY the
order) is that it appears that while rich and criminal informations filed against him in the
influential persons get favorable actions from the Sandiganbayan; and
Supreme Court, it is difficult for an ordinary
litigant to get his petition to be given due (2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez to cease
course. Gonzalez told the Daily Globe in an and desist from conducting investigations and
exclusive interview. filing criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan or
otherwise exercising the powers and functions of
Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order '"eightens the Ombudsman.
the people's apprehension over the justice
system in this country, especially because the SO ORDERED.
A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez (b) That no less than six of the members of the
the next day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent Gonzalez, Court "interceded for and on behalf of persons
after having argued the legal merits of his position, made the with pending cases before the Tanodbayan," or
following statements totally unrelated to any legal issue raised either sought "to pressure him to render decisions
in the Court's Decision or in his own Motion: favorable to their colleagues and friends;"

1. That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a (c) That attempts were made to influence him to
leading member of the court ... and he was asked go slow on Zaldivar and not to be too hard on
to 'go slow on Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him and to refrain from investigating the
him;' " Commission on Audit report on illegal
disbursements in the Supreme Court because it
2. That he "was approached and asked to refrain will embarass the Court;
from investigating the COA report on illegal
disbursements in the Supreme Court because 'it (d) That there were also attempts to cause the
will embarass the Court;" and dismissal of cases against two Associate
Justices; and
3. That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned
respondent was called over the phone by a (e) That the Court had dismissed judges' without
leading member of the Court and was asked to rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without
dismiss the cases against (two Members of the due process.
Court)."
3. It further appearing that three (3) affidavits
Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten relative to the purpose of and circumstances
notes 15 which he claimed were sent by "some members of this attendant upon the notes written to said public
Honorable Court, interceeding for cases pending before this office respondent by three (3) members of the Court
(i.e., the Tanodbayan)." He either released his Motion for have since been submitted to the Court and now
Reconsideration with facsimiles of said notes to the press or form part of its official records, the Court further
repeated to the press the above extraneous statements: the Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to
metropolitan papers for the next several days carried long reports on ATTACH to this Resolution copies of said sworn
those statements and variations and embellishments thereof On 2 statements and the annexes thereto appended,
May 1988, the Court issued the following Resolution in the and to DIRECT respondent Gonzalez also to
Consolidated Petitions: comment thereon within the same period of ten
(10) days.
G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The
Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al. G.R. No. 80578 4. It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution
(Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez, of February 16, 1988 addressed to respondent
etc). Gonzalez was misdelivered and therefore not
served on him, the Court Resolved to require the
1. Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed Clerk of Court to CAUSE SERVICE of said
by respondent Gonzalez under date of April 28, Resolution on the respondent and to REQUIRE
1988, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE the the latter to comply therewith.
petitioner to COMMENT thereon within ten (10)
days from notice hereof. Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May
1988 an Omnibus Motion for Extension and Inhibition 16 alleging,
2. It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez among other things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of
has made public statements to the media which the Court "appears to have overturned that presumption [of
not only deal with matters subjudice but also innocence] against him:" and that "he gravely doubts whether that
appear offensive to and disrespectful of the Court 'cold neutrality [of an impartial judge] is still available to him" there
and its individual members and calculated, being allegedly "at least 4 members of this Tribunal who will not be
directly or indirectly, to bring the Court into able to sit in judgment with substantial sobriety and neutrality."
disrepute, discredit and ridicule and to denigrate Respondent Gonzalez closed out his pleading with a prayer that the
and degrade the administration of justice, the four (4) Members of the Court Identified and referred to there by him
Court Resolved to require respondent Gonzalez inhibit themselves in the deliberation and resolution of the Motion to
to explain in writing within ten (10) days from Cite in Contempt.
notice hereof, why he should not be punished for
contempt of court and/or subjected to On 19 May 1988 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion
administrative sanctions for making such public for Reconsideration. 18 this Court in an extended per
statements reported in the media, among others, curiam Resolution 19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for
in the issues of the "Daily Inquirer," the "Journal," Reconsideration. That denial was made "final and immediately
the "Manila Times," the "Philippine Star," the executory.
"Manila Chronicle" the "Daily Globe" and the
"Manila Standard" of April 29 and 30, and May 1, Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of
1988, to wit: record:

(a) That the Court resolution in question is merely 1. Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to
"an offshoot of the position he had taken that the Inhibition 20 dated 23 May 1988;
SC Justices cannot claim immunity from suit or
investigation by government prosecutors or
2. Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedures
motivated by a desire to stop him 'from
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines 21 dated
investigating cases against some of their
20 May 1988
proteges or friends;"
3. Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also an officer of
to File Explanation Ex Abundante the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and
Cautelam, 22 dated 26 May 1988; responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society.
Any act on his part which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or impede
4. Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both
professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary action
against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the
(a) For Extension of Time
contempt power.
(b) For Inhibition and
It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish
for contempt or of the disciplinary authority of the Court over
(c) For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to members of the Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor
the IBP, Under Rule 139-B 23 dated 4 June 1988 and arbiter at one and the same time. Thus, in the present case,
(with Annex "A;" 24 an anonymous letter dated 27 respondent Gonzalez first sought to get some members of the Court
May 1988 from the alleged Concerned to inhibit themselves in the resolution of this case for alleged bias
Employees of the Supreme Court and addressed and prejudice against him. A little later, he in effect asked the whole
to respondent): Court to inhibit itself from passing upon the issues involved in this
proceeding and to pass on responsibility for this matter to the
5. Ex-Parte Manifestation 25 dated 7 June 1988; Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground that respondent
cannot expect due process from this Court, that the Court has
6. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for become incapable of judging him impartially and fairly. Respondent
Reconsideration 26 1988; and Gonzalez misconceives the nature of the proceeding at bar as well
as the function of the members of the Court in such proceeding.
7. Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with
Motion 27 member 1988. Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re
Almacen, 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred Fruiz Castro
In compliance with the 2 May 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted had occasion to deal with this contention in the following lucid
earlier, respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17 June 1988 an Answer manner:
with Explanation and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal
arguments and defenses against the contempt and disciplinary xxx xxx xxx
charges presently pending before this Court. Attached to that
pleading as Annex "A" thereof was respondent's own personal It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to
Explanation/Compliance 29 second explanation called the exercise of our authority in the premises, that,
"Compliance," 30 with annexes, was also submitted by respondent on as Atty. Almacen would have it appear, the
22 July 1988. members of the Court are the 'complainants,
prosecutors and judges' all rolled up into one in
II this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if
not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the
We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to proceeding at hand but also of our role therein.
discipline officers of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme
Court, as regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary
disciplinary authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline proceedings like the present are sui generis.
lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this
admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to proceeding is not—and does not involve—a trial
regulate the practice itself of of an action or a suit, but is rather an
law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the disciplinary investigation by the Court into the conduct of its
authority of the Supreme Court over members of the Bar is an officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment,
inherent power incidental to the proper administration of justice and it is in no sense a criminal prosecution.
essential to an orderly discharge of judicial functions. 32 Moreover, Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a
the Supreme Court has inherent power to punish for contempt, to prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the
control in the furtherance of justice the conduct of ministerial officers Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary
of the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any objective, and the real question for determination
manner with a case before the Court. 33 The power to punish for is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person
contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an improper to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in
interference with the due administration of justice," "(it) is not the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court
dependent upon the complaint of any of the parties litigant. 34 merely calls upon a member of the Bar to
account for his actuations as an officer of the
There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into Court with the end in view of preserving the purity
play in cases like that before us here; the Court's inherent power to of the legal profession and the property and
discipline attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary honest administration of justice by purging the
authority of the Court over members of the Bar is broader than the profession of members who by their misconduct
power to punish for contempt. Contempt of court may be committee have proved themselves no longer worthy to be
both by lawyers and non-lawyers, both in and out of court. entrusted with the duties and responsibilities
Frequently, where the contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such
conduct also constitutes professional misconduct which calls into posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak
play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. 35Where the of a complainant or a prosecutor.
respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court's disciplinary
authority over lawyers may come into play whether or not the Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a
misconduct with which the respondent is charged also constitutes certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade
contempt of court. The power to punish for contempt of court does against the Court as a body is necessarily and
not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over inextricably as much so against the individual
lawyers. 36 The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of members thereof But in the exercise of its
the Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of admission to disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity
separate and distinct from the individual Gonzalez, was issued as an act of retaliation by the Court against
personalities of its members. Consistently with him for the position he had taken "that the (Supreme Court) Justices
the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the cannot claim immunity from suit or investigation by government
individual members act not as such individuals prosecutors," and in order to stop respondent from investigating
but only as a duly constituted court. The distinct against "some of (the) proteges or friends (of some Supreme Court
individualities are lost in the majesty of their Justices)." The Court cannot, of course, and will not debate the
office. So that, in a very real sense, if there be correctness of its Decision of 27 April 1988 and of its Resolution
any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be dated 19 May 1988 (denying respondent Gonzalez Motion for
the Court itself, not the individual members Reconsideration) in the consolidated Zaldivar cases. Respondent
thereof—as well as the people Gonzalez, and anyone else for that matter, is free intellectually to
themselves whose rights, fortunes and accept or not to accept the reasoning of the Court set out in its per
properties, nay, even lives, would be placed at curiam Decision and Resolution in the consolidated Zaldivar cases.
grave hazard should the administration of justice This should not, however, obscure the seriousness of the assault
be threatened by the retention in the Bar of men thus undertaken by respondent against the Court and the appalling
unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of implications of such assault for the integrity of the system of
membership in the legal fraternity. administration of justice in our country. Respondent has said that the
Court rendered its Decision and Resolution without regard to the
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the legal merits of the Zaldivar cases and had used the judicial process
practice of law is but a necessary incident of the to impose private punishment upon respondent for positions he had
power to admit persons to said practice. By taken (unrelated to the Zaldivar cases) in carrying out his duties. It is
constitutional precept, this power is vested very difficult to imagine a more serious affront to, or a greater outrage
exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot upon, the honour and dignity of this Court than this. Respondent's
abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally statement is also totally baseless. Respondent's statements were
renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it. So made in complete disregard of the fact that his continuing authority to
that even if it be conceded that the members act as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after the effectivity of the 1987
collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, Constitution, had been questioned before this Court as early as 10
that fact alone does not and cannot disqualify September 1987 in the Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and
them from the exercise of the power because mandamus filed against him in these consolidated Petitions 40 that is,
public policy demands that they, acting as a more than seven (7) months before the Court rendered its Decision.
Court, exercise the power in all cases which call Respondent also ignores the fact that one day later, this Court issued
for disciplinary action. The present is such a a Temporary Restraining Order effective immediately ordering
case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the the Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the criminal
merger in one entity of the personalities of cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez.
complainant, prosecutor and judge is absolutely Respondent also disregards the fact that on 24 November 1987,
inexistent. upon the filing of a second Petition for certiorari for Prohibition by Mr.
Zaldivar, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order this time
requiring the respondent to cease and desist from further acting in
xxx xxx xxx. 38
TBP Case No. 87-0934. Thus, the decision finally reached by this
Court in April 1988 on the constitutional law issue pending before the
It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to Court for the preceding eight (8) months, could scarcely have been
disclaim any bias or prejudice against the respondent that would invented as a reprisal simply against respondent.
prevent them from acting in accordance with the exacting
requirements of their oaths of office. It also appears to the Court that
A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members
for all the members to inhibit themselves from sitting on this case is
of the Supreme Court is that they have improperly Id pressured" him
to abdicate the responsibility with which the Constitution has
to render decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends,"
burdened them. Reference of complaints against attorneys either to
including dismissal of "cases" against two (2) members of the Court.
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not
This particularly deplorable charge too is entirely baseless, as even a
mandatory upon the Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated
cursory examination of the contents of the handwritten notes of three
Bar of the Philippines or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an
(3) members of this Court addressed to respondent (which
exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised
respondent attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of the
Rules of Court, especially where the charge consists of acts done
Decision of this Court of 27 April 1988 in the consolidated Petitions)
before the Supreme Court. There is no need for further investigation
win show. It is clear, and respondent Gonzalez does not pretend
of facts in the present case for it is not substantially disputed by
otherwise, that the subject matters of the said notes had no relation
respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote certain statements
at all to the issues in G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and 80578. This charge
attributed to him. In any case, respondent has had the amplest
appears to have been made in order to try to impart some substance
opportunity to present his defense; his defense is not that he did not
(at least in the mind of respondent) to the first accusation made by
make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give
respondent that the Court had deliberately rendered a wrong
rise to no liability on his part, having been made in the exercise of his
decision to get even with respondent who had, with great fortitude,
freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved here
resisted "pressure" from some members of the Court. Once again, in
are issues of law and of basic policy and the Court, not any other
total effect, the statements made by respondent appear designed to
agency, is compelled to resolve such issues.
cast the Court into gross disrepute, and to cause among the general
public scorn for and distrust in the Supreme Court and, more
III generally, the judicial institutions of the Republic.

It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was
Gonzalez was saying in his statements set out above. Respondent preventing him from prosecuting "rich and powerful persons," that the
has not denied making the above statements; indeed, he Court was in effect discrimination between the rich and powerful on
acknowledges that the newspaper reports of the statements the one hand and the poor and defenseless upon the other, and
attributed to him are substantially correct. 39 allowing "rich and powerful" accused persons to go "scot-free" while
presumably allowing or affirming the conviction of poor and small
Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme offenders. This accusation can only be regarded as calculated to
Court deliberately rendered an erroneous or wrong decision when it present the Court in an extremely bad light. It may be seen as
rendered its per curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. intended to foment hatred against the Supreme Court; it is also
79690-707 and 80578. That decision according to respondent suggestive of the divisive tactics of revolutionary class war.
Respondent, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements
"dismissed judges 'without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers earlier made, respondent sought to heap still more opprobrium upon
'without due process.'" The Court notes that this last attack is not the Court, accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and
without relation to the other statements made by respondent against statements justly and according to law. Once again, he paints this
the Court. The total picture that respondent clearly was trying to paint Court as a body not only capable of acting without regard to due
of the Court is that of an "unjudicial" institution able and willing to process but indeed determined so to act. A grand design to hold up
render "clearly erroneous" decisions by way of reprisal against its this Court to public scorn and disrespect as an unworthy tribunal, one
critics, as a body that acts arbitrarily and capriciously denying judges obfuscated by passion and anger at respondent, emerges once
and lawyers due process of law. Once again, the purport of more. It is very difficult for members of this Court to understand how
respondent's attack against the Court as an institution unworthy of respondent Gonzalez could suppose that judges on the highest
the people's faith and trust, is unmistakable. Had respondent tribunal of the land would be ready and willing to violate their most
undertaken to examine the records 'of the two (2) judges and the solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined private feelings
attorney he later Identified in one of his Explanations, he would have aroused by respondent. The universe of the Court revolves around
discovered that the respondents in those administrative cases had the daily demands of law and justice and duty, not around
ample opportunity to explain their side and submit evidence in respondent nor any other person or group of persons.
support thereof. 41 He would have also found that there were both
strong reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may
measures there administered by the Court in the continuing effort to reasonably be regarded by this Court as contumacious or as
strengthen the judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is warranting exercise of the disciplinary authority of this Court over
appropriate to recall in this connection that due process as a members of the Bar, may best be assayed by examining samples of
constitutional precept does not, always and in all situations, require the kinds of statements which have been held in our jurisdiction as
the trial-type proceeding, 42 that the essence of due process is to be constituting contempt or otherwise warranting the exercise of the
found in the reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit any Court's authority.
evidence one may have in support of one's defense. 43 "To be heard"
does not only mean verbal arguments in court; one may be heard
1. In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirico del Mar as counsel for
also through pleadings. Where opportunity to be heard, either
Montecillo, who was accused in a slander case, moved to reconsider
through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there is no denial
a decision of the Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a
of procedural due process. 44
veiled threat that he should interpose his next appeal to the President
of the Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to
As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an
explain why he should not be punished for contempt and/or unjust judgment," and "judgment rendered through negligence" and
subjected to administrative discipline for making the statements implied that the Court of Appeals had allowed itself to be deceived.
adverted to above. In his subsequent pleadings where he asked the Atty. del Mar was held guilty of contempt of court by the Court of
full Court to inhibit itself and to transfer the administrative Appeals. He then sued the three (3) justices of the Court of Appeals
proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, respondent for damages before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, seeking to
made, among others, the following allegations: hold them liable for their decision in the appealed slander case. This
suit was terminated, however, by compromise agreement after Atty.
(a) That the Members of the Court "should inhibit del Mar apologized to the Court of Appeals and the justices
[themselves] in the contempt and administrative concerned and agreed to pay moral damages to the justices. Atty.
charges against the respondent, in the light of the del Mar some time later filed with this Court a Petition for Review on
manifest prejudice and anger they hold against certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals in a slander case. This
respondent as shown in the language of the Court denied the Petition for Review. Atty. del Mar then filed a Motion
resolution on the Motion for Reconsideration;" for Reconsideration and addressed a letter to the Clerk of the
Supreme Court asking for the names of the justices of this Court who
(b) That "the entire membership of the court has had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion for
already lost that 'cold neutrality of an impartial Reconsideration. After his Motion for Reconsideration was denied for
judge' [to] be able to allow fairness and due lack of merit, Atty. del Mar filed a Manifestation in this Court saying:
process in the contempt citation as well as in the
possible administrative charge; I can at this time reveal to you that, had your
Clerk of Court furnished me with certified true
(c) That "respondent honestly feels that this court copies of the last two Resolutions of the
as angry and prejudiced as it is, respondent has Supreme Court confirming the decision of the
no china man's chance to get fair hearing in the Court of Appeals in the case entitled Francisco
contempt and possible administrative charges;" M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed
against the Justices supporting the same, civil
and criminal suits as I did to the Justices of the
(d) That one must consider "the milieu before this
Court of Appeals who, rewarding the abhorent
Tribunal with, perhaps passion and obfuscation
falsification committed by Mr. Gica, reversed for
running riot;"
him the decisions of the City Court and the Court
of First Instance of Cebu, not with a view to
(e) That respondent, "after having been obtaining a favorable judgment therein but for the
castigated with such venom by the entire Court in purpose of exposing to the people the corroding
its decision denying the Motion for evils extant in our Government, so that they may
Reconsideration, does not have confidence in the well know them and work for their
impartiality of the entire Court" and that he "funds extermination. (60 SCRA at 240;emphasis
it extremely difficult to believe that the members supplied)
of this Tribunal can still act with unbiased
demeanor towards him;" and
Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively
dealt with for making the above statements. In his additional
(f) That "the Tribunal is determined explanation, Atty. del Mar made the following statements:
to disbar [respondent] without due process" and
that a specified Member of the Court "has been
... Graft, corruption and injustice are rampant in
tasked to be the ponente, or at least prepare the
and outside of the Government. It is this state of
decision." (Underscoring in the original)
things that convinced me that all human efforts to
correct and/or reform the said evils will be ... To those who are in the practice of law and
fruitless and, as stated in my manifestation to those who in the future will choose to enter this
you, I have already decided to retire from a life of profession, We wish to point to this case as a
militancy to a life of seclusion, leaving to God the reminder for them to imprint in their hearts and
filling up deficiencies. (60 SCRA at 242) minds that an attorney owes it to himself to
respect the courts of justice and its officers as a
The Court suspended Atty. del Mar, "until further orders," from the fealty for the stability of our democratic
practice of law saying: institutions. (60 SCRA at 242-247: emphasis
supplied)
... Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind
as state of graft, corruption and injustice 2. In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4)
allegedly rampant in and outside of the members of the bar, acting as counsel for MacArthur International
government as justification for his contemptuous Minerals Company were required by this Court to explain certain
statements. In other words, he already assumed statements made in MacArthur's third Motion for Reconsideration:
by his own contemptuous utterances that
because there is an alleged existence of rampant d. ...; and I the Supreme Court I has overlooked
corruption, graft and injustice in and out of the the applicable law due to the mis-representation
government, We, by Our act in G.R. No. L- and obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last
36800, are among the corrupt, the grafters and sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for
those allegedly committing injustice. We are at a Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968).
complete loss to follow respondent del Mar's
logic ... e. ... Never has any civilized democratic tribunal
ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the "right
xxx xxx xxx to reject any and all bids") can be used by
vulturous executives to cover up and excuse
To aged brethren of the bar it may appear losses to the public, a government agency or just
belated to remind them that second only to the plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light of
duty of maintaining allegiance to the Republic of our upbringing and schooling, even under many
the Philippines and to support the Constitution of the incumbent justices, that the Honorable
and obey the laws of the Philippines, is the duty Supreme Court intends to create a decision that
of all attorneys to observe and maintain the in effect does precisely that in a most absolute
respect due to the courts of justice and judicial manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion
officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule 138, Rules of Court). for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968). (31
But We do remind them of said duty to SCRA at 6)
emphasize to their younger brethren its
paramount importance. A lawyer must always They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion
remember that he is an officer of the court to Inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking
exercising a high privilege and serving in the
noble mission of administering justice. Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr.
Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit themselves
xxx xxx xxx. from considering, judging and resolving the case
or any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to
As already stated, the decision of the Court of January 11, 1967. The motion charges "It that the
Appeals in C.A G.R. No. 46504-R was based on brother of the Honorable Associate Justice
its evaluation of the evidence on only one Castro is a vice-president of the favored party
specific issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L- who is the chief beneficiary of the false,
36800 the petition for review on certiorari of the erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31,
decision because We found no reason for 1968" and the ex-parte preliminary injunction
disturbing the appellate court's finding and rendered in the above-entitled case, the latter in
conclusion. In both instances, both the Court of effect prejudging and predetermining this case
Appeals and this Court exercised judicial even before the joining of an issue. As to the
discretion in a case under their respective Chief Justice, the motion states [t]hat the son of
jurisdiction. The intemperate and imprudent act the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion
of respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled was given a significant appointment in the
threats to make both Courts reconsider their Philippine Government by the President a short
respective stand in the decision and the time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was
resolution that spelled disaster for his client rendered in this case. The appointment referred
cannot be anything but pure contumely for aid to was as secretary of the newly-created Board
tribunals. of Investments. The motion presents a lengthy
discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a number
of side comments projecting what is claimed to
It is manifest that respondent del Mar has scant
be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968
respect for the two highest Court of the land
decision. It enumerates "incidents" which,
when on the flimsy ground of alleged error in
according to the motion, brought about
deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the
respondent MacArthur's belief that unjudicial
integrity of both Courts by claiming that they
prejudice had been caused it and that there was
knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his
'unjudicial favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners, their
allegation is that they acted with intent and
appointing authority and a favored party directly
malice, if not with gross ignorance of the law, in
benefited by the said decision
disposing of the case of his client.
(31 SCRA at 6-7)
xxx xxx xxx
Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for Board of Investments, 'a significant appointment
MacArthur and filed a fourth Motion for Reconsideration without leave in the Philippine Government by the President, a
of court, which Motion contained the following paragraphs: short time before the decision of July 31, 1968
was rendered.' In this backdrop, he proceeds to
4. The said decision is illegal because it was state that 'it would seem that the principles thus
penned by the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto established [the moral and ethical guidelines for
Concepcion when in fact he was outside the inhibition of any judicial authority by the
borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to
time of the Oral Argument of the above-entitled itself.' He puts forth the claim that lesser and
case—which condition is prohibited by the New further removed conditions have been known to
Rules of Court—Section 1, Rule 51, and we create favoritism, only to conclude that there
quote: "Justices; who may take part—... . Only is no reason for a belief that the conditions
those members present when any matter is obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and
submitted for oral argument will take part in its Justice Castro would be less likely to engender
consideration and adjudication ... ." This favoritism and prejudice for or against a particular
requirement is especially significant in the cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the
present instance because the member who Chief Justice and Justice Castro are insensible
penned the decision was the very member who to delicadeza, which could make their actuation
was absent for approximately four months or suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the
more. This provision also applies to the Chief Justice and Justice Castro not only were
Honorable Justices Claudio Teehankee and not free from the appearance of impropriety but
Antonio Barredo. did arouse suspicion that their relationship did
affect their judgment. He points out that courts
must be above suspicion at all times like
xxx xxx xxx
Ceasar's wife, warns that loss of confidence for
the Tribunal or a member thereof should not be
6. That if the respondent MacArthur International allowed to happen in our country, 'although the
Minerals Company abandons its quest for justice process has already begun.
in the Judiciary of the Philippine Government, it
will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption
xxx xxx xxx
of Philippine Government officials in the bidding
of May 12, 1965, required by the Nickel Law to
determine the operator of the Surigao nickel What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's
deposits, to the World Court on grounds of accusations have no basis in fact and in law. The
deprivation of justice and confiscation of property slur made is not limited to the Chief Justice and
and/or to the United States Government, either Mr. Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion
its executive or judicial branches or both, on the on the whole court. For, inhibition is also asked if,
grounds of confiscation of respondent's we repeated any other justices who have
proprietary vested rights by the Philippine received favors or benefits directly or indirectly
Government without either compensation or due from any of the petitioners or any members of
process of law and invoking the Hickenlooper any board-petitioner or their agents or principals,
Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and including the president.' The absurdity of this
benefits to the Philippine Government, including posture is at once apparent. For one thing, the
the sugar price premium, amounting to more than justices of this Court are appointed by the
fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or President and in that sense may be considered
compensation is made. to have each received a favor from the President.
(31 SCRA at 10-11) Should these justices inhibit themselves every
time a case involving the Administration crops
up? Such a thought may not certainly be
Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking
entertained. The consequence thereof would be
through Mr. Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys guilty of
to paralyze the machinery of this Court. We
contempt:
would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the tripartite
system of government operating in this country.
1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Counsel is presumed to know this. But why the
Santiago. In his third motion for reconsideration, unfounded charge? There is the not too-well
we, indeed, find language that is not to be concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's
expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures attorney to downgrade this Court.
petitioners as 'vulturous executives.' He speaks
of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,'
The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing
but by innuendo would suggest that it is not.
gross disrespect is easy to discern. Such
disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a
In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph court of justice. Decidedly not an expression of
categorizes our decision of July 31, 1968 as faith, counsel's words are intended to create an
'false, erroneous and illegal' in a presumptuous atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief.
manner. He then charges that the ex parte
preliminary injunction we issued in this case
xxx xxx xxx
prejudiced and predetermined the case even
before the joining of an issue. He accuses in a
reckless manner two justices of this Court for The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just
being interested in the decision of this case: recited are not unfamiliar to lawyers. and yet, this
Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his Court finds in the language of Atty. Santiago a
brother is the vice president of the favored party style that undermines and degrades the
who is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and administration of justice. The stricture in Section
Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, whose son 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules against improper
was appointed secretary of the newly-created conduct tending to degrade the administration of
justice is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the
guilty of contempt of court. case.

xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

Third. The motion contained an express threat to There is no use continuing his law practice,
take the case to the World Court and/or the Almacen said in this petition, 'where our Supreme
United States government. It must be Court is composed of men who are calloused to
remembered that respondent MacArthur at that our pleas of justice, who ignore without reason
time was still trying to overturn the decision of their own applicable decisions and commit
this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, culpable violations of the Constitution with
unnecessary statements were in ejected. More impunity.'
specifically, the motion announced that McArthur
'will inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of xxx xxx xxx
the Philippine government officials in the bidding
of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court' and would
He expressed the hope that by divesting himself
invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring
of his title by which he earns his living, the
the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the
present members of the Supreme Court 'will
Philippine Government, including the sugar price
become responsible to all cases brought to its
premium, amount to more than fifty million dollars
attention without discrimination, and will purge
annually ...
itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious
"lack of merit' or "denied resolutions. (31 SCRA
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the at 565566; emphasis supplied)
blind of this Court to decide the case' in its favor.
A notice of appeal to the World Court has even
Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why
been embodied in Meads return. There is a gross
disciplinary action should not be taken against him. His explanation,
inconsistency between the appeal and the move
which in part read:
to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a
decision presupposes that a party has already
abandoned any move to reconsider that decision. xxx xxx xxx
And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the
World Court is being dangled as a threat to effect The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in
a change of the decision of this Court. Such act paintings that can be found in all courts and
has no aboveboard explanation. government offices. We have added only two
more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb.
xxx xxx xxx Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court
has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity,
fairness, understanding, sympathy and for
The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can
justice; dumb in the sense, that inspire of our
never be protected where infraction of ethics
beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us
meets with complacency rather than punishment.
reasons why our appeals has been DENIED, not
The people should not be given cause to break
one word was spoken or given ... We refer to no
faith with the belief that a judge is the epitome of
human defect or ailment in the above statement.
honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a
We only described the impersonal state of Things
court of justice should not yield to the assaults of
and nothing more.
disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to think,
is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer
pleading a cause before a court of justice. (31 xxx xxx xxx
SCRA at 13-23; emphasis supplied)
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and
3. In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in protest confidence in the members of this Court and for
against what he asserted was "a great injustice committed against which reason we offered to surrender our
his client by the Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because
Lawyer's Certificate of Title. He alleged that his client was deeply what has been lost today may be regained
aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment," and had become "one of tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-
the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy," saying that imposed sacrifice, then we alone may decide as
"justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme to when we must end our self- sacrifice. If we
Court [was) not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." Atty. Almacen have to choose between forcing ourselves to
vowed to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum" so that have faith and confidence in the members of the
"the people may know of this silent injustice committed by this Court' Court but disregard our Constitution and to
and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were uphold the Constitution and be condemned by
committed [may] never be repeated." Atty. Almacen released to the the members of this Court, there is no choice, we
press the contents of his Petition and on 26 September 1967, the must uphold the latter. (31 SCRA at 572;
"Manila Times" published statements attributed to him as follows: emphasis supplied)

Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected.
petition, said he did not expose the The Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from the practice of law
tribunal's'unconstitutional and obnoxious' practice holding, through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had
of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without exceeded the boundaries of "fair criticism."
any reason.
4. In Paragas V. Cruz, 47 Counsel, whose Petition for Ceriorari ran
Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' was dismissed by this Court, made the following statements in his
Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to Motion for Reconsideration:
The petitioner respectfully prays for a 5. In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo, invoking
reconsideration of the resolution of this the Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the source of the news
Honorable Court dated April 20,1966 on the item which carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing.
ground that it constitutes a violation of Section 14 Atty. Vicente Sotto, a senator and author of said law, caused the
of Rule 11 2 of the Rules of Court promulgated publication of the following item in a number of daily newspapers in
by this very Hon. Supreme Court, and on the Manila:
further ground that it is likewise a violation of the
most important right in the Bill of Rights of the As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic
Constitution of the Philippines, a culpable Act No. 53), interpreted by the Supreme Court in
violation which is a ground for impeachment. the case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local
daily, who now has to suffer 30 days
... The rule of law in a democracy should always imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the
be upheld and protected by all means, because source of a news published in his paper, I regret
the rule of law creates and preserves peace and to say that our High Tribunal has not only
order and gives satisfaction and contentment to erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is
all concerned. But when the laws and the rules once more putting in evidence the incompetency
are violated, the victims resort, sometimes, to or narrow mindedness of the majority of its
armed force and to the ways of the cavemen We members. In the wake of so many blunders and
do not want Verzosa and Reyes repeated again injustices deliberately committed during these
and again, killed in the premises of the Supreme last years, I believe that the only remedy to put
Court and in those of the City Hall of an end to so much evil, is to change the
Manila. Educated people should keep their members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I
temper under control at all times! But justice announce that one of the first measures, which I
should be done to all concerned to perpetuate will introduce in the coming congressional
the very life of Democracy on the face of the sessions, will have as its object the complete
earth. (14 SCRA at 810; emphasis supplied) reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now
constituted, the Supreme Court of today
The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the constitutes a constant peril to liberty and
dignity of the Court and required counsel to show cause why democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so
administrative action should not be taken against him. Counsel later that even the deaf may hear: The Supreme Court
explained that he had merely related factual events (i.e., the killing of of today is a far cry from the impregnable bulwark
Verzosa and Reyes) and to express his desire to avoid repetition of of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano
such acts. The Court, through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, found these Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and
explanations unsatisfactory and the above statements contumacious. other learned jurists who were the honor and
glory of the Philippine Judiciary. (82 Phil. at 597-
598; emphasis supplied)
... The expressions contained in the motion for
reconsideration ... are plainly contemptuous and
disrespectful, and reference to the recent killing In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his
of two employees is but a covert threat upon the avowals of good faith and his invocation of the
members of the Court. ... That such threats and constitutional guarantee of free speech and in
disrespectful language contained in a pleading requiring him to show cause why he should not
filed in courts are constitutive of direct contempt be disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice
has been repeatedly decided (Salcedo vs. Feria, said-
Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724; People vs. Venturanza,
52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. To hurl the false charge that this Court has been
151; De Joya vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal, for the last years committing deliberately so
1, 9785, September 19,1956; Sison vs. Sandejas many blunders and injustices that is to say, that it
L- 9270, April 29,1959; Lualhati vs. Albert, 57 has been deciding in favor of one party knowing
Phil. 86). What makes the present case more that the law and justice is on the part of the
deplorable is that the guilty party is a member of adverse party and not on the one in whose favor
the bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77 the decision was rendered, in many cases
Phil. 580- decided during the last years, would tend
necessarily to undermine the coincidence of the
Counsel should conduct himself towards the people in the honesty and integrity of the
judges who try his cases with that courtesy all members of this Court, and consequently to
have a right to expect. As an officer of the court, lower and degrade the administration of justice
it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and by this Court. The Supreme Court of the
not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last
regard towards the courts so essential to the bulwark to which the Filipino people may repair to
proper administration of justice. obtain relief for their grievances or protection of
their rights when these are trampled upon, and if
the people lose their confidence in the honesty
It in light and plausible that an attorney in
and integrity of the members of this Court and
defending the cause and rights of his client,
believe that they cannot expect justice therefrom,
should do so with all the fervor and energy of
they might be driven to take the law into their
which he is capable, but it is not, and never will
hands, and disorder and perhaps chaos might be
be so, for him to exercise said right by resorting
the result. As a member of the bar and an officer
to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety
of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is
and respect which the dignity of the courts
in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority
require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re
of this Court, to which he owes fidelity according
Francisco], 61 Phil. 729)' (1 4 SCRA at 811-812;
to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and
emphasis supplied)
not to promote distrust in the administration of
justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the
stability of other institutions, which without such
guaranty would be resting on a very shaky judicial matters, in the consideration of questions
foundation. (82 Phil. at 601-602; emphasis submitted for resolution.
supplied)
There is no question that said paragraph of
6. In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a Motion Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's motion contains a
before the Supreme Court which contained the following paragraph more or less veiled threat to the court because it
(in translation): is insinuated therein, after the author shows the
course which the voters of Tiaong should follow
We should like frankly and respectfully to make it in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort
of record that the resolution of this court, denying to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what
our motion for reconsideration, is absolutely he claims to be a judicial outrage of which his
erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the client has been the victim; and because he states
rights of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a in a threatening manner with the intention of
mockery of the popular will expressed at the predisposing the mind of the reader against the
polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices
wish to exhaust all the means within our power in against it in order to make it odious in the public
order that this error may be corrected by the very eye, that decisions of the nature of that referred
court which has committed it, because we should to in his motion to promote distrust in the
not want that some citizen, particularly some administration of justice and increase the
voter of the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas, proselytes of sakdalism a movement with
resort to the press publicly to denounce, as he seditious and revolutionary tendencies the
has a right to do, the judicial outrage of which the activities of which, as is of public knowledge,
herein petitioner has been the victim, and occurred in this country a few days ago. This
because it is our utmost desire to safeguard the cannot mean otherwise than contempt of the
prestige of this honorable court and of each and dignity of the court and disrespect of the authority
every member thereof in the eyes of the public. thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J.
But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely Francisco, because he presumes that the court is
that erroneous decisions like these, which the so devoid of the sense of justice that, if he did not
affected party and his thousands of voters will resort to intimidation, it would maintain its error
necessarily consider unjust, increase the notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven,
proselytes of sakdalism and make the public lose with good reasons, that it has acted erroneously.
confidence in the administration of justice. (61
Phil. at 726; emphasis supplied) As a member of the bar and an officer of this
court, Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, as any
When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be attorney, is in duty bound to uphold its dignity
declared in contempt, Atty. Francisco responded by saying that it and authority and to defend its integrity, not only
was not contempt to tell the truth. Examining the statements made because it had conferred upon him the high
above, the Court held: privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, 158
and 160), of being what he now is: a priest of
justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio St., Rep., 492,
... [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court,
669), but also because in so doing, he neither
an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the
creates nor promotes distrust in the
court and an intentional contempt of its dignity,
administration of justice, and prevents anybody
because the court is thereby charged with no
from harboring and encouraging discontent
less than having proceeded in utter disregard of
which, in many cases, is the source of disorder,
the laws, the rights of the parties, and of the
thus undermining the foundation upon which
untoward consequences, or with having abused
rests that bulwark called judicial power to which
its power and mocked and flouted the rights of
those who are aggrieved turn for protection and
Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client, because
relief (61 Phil. at 727-728; emphasis supplied)
the acts of outraging and mocking from which the
words 'outrage' and mockery' used therein are
derived, means exactly the same as all these, It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed
according to the Dictionary of the Spanish exhaust our case law on this matter. In the following cases, among
Language published by the Spanish Academy others, the Supreme Court punished for contempt or administratively
(Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 15th ed., disciplined lawyers who had made statements not very different from
pages 132-513). those made in the cases discussed above:

The insertion of the phrases in question in said 1) In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382
motion of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco, for many (1987);
years a member of the Philippine bar, was
neither justified nor in the least necessary, 2) Borromeo v. Court of appeals, 87 SCRA 67
because in order to call the attention of the court (1978);
in a special way to the essential points relied
upon in his argument and to emphasize the force 3) Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferrer, 20 SCRA
thereof, the many reasons stated in his said 441 (1967);
motion were sufficient and the phrases in
question were superfluous. In order to appeal to
4) Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961);
reason and justice, it is highly improper and
amiss to make trouble and resort to threats, as
Attorney Vicente J. Francisco has done, because 5) De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of
both means are annoying and good practice can Rizal, Pasay City Branch, 99 Phil. 907 (1956);
ever sanction them by reason of their natural
tendency to disturb and hinder the free exercise 6) People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211
of a serene and impartial judgment, particularly in (1956);
7) In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of
curiam Resolution (unreported), Promulgated 29 speech and press. This constitutional right must
April 1955; be protected in its fullest extent. The Court has
heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard
8) Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950); for charges under the Libel Law which come
dangerously close to its violation. We shall
continue in this chosen path. The liberty of the
9) People v. Carillon, 77 Phil. 572 (1946);
citizens must be preserved in all of its
completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of
10) Intestate Estate of Rosario 0lba; Contempt the press and of the citizens should not be
Proceedings against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. confused with liberty ill its true sense. As
312 (1939); and important as is the maintenance of an unmuzzled
press and the free exercise of the rights of the
11) Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932). citizens is the maintenance of the independence
of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot
Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above be had if persons are privileged to scorn a
which the Court has in the past penalized as contemptuous or as resolution of the court adopted for good
warranting application of disciplinary sanctions, this Court is purposes, and if such persons are to be
compelled to hold that the statements here made by respondent permitted by subterranean means to diffuse
Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the inaccurate accounts of confidential proceedings
disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Respondent's to the embarassment of the parties and the
statements, especially the charge that the Court deliberately courts. 51 (Emphasis supplied)
rendered an erroneous and unjust decision in the Consolidated
Petitions, necessarily implying that the justices of this Court betrayed Only slightly (if at all) less important is the public interest in the
their oath of office, merely to wreak vengeance upon the respondent capacity of the Court effectively to prevent and control professional
here, constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the Court. Such misconduct on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost,
statements very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and, indispensable participants in the task of rendering justice to every
through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in the man. Some courts have held, persuasively it appears to us, that a
country. That respondent's baseless charges have had some impact lawyer's right of free expression may have to be more limited than
outside the internal world of subjective intent, is clearly demonstrated that of a layman. 52
by the filing of a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the
then fourteen (14) incumbent members of this Court, a complaint the It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a
centerpiece of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who
respondent that this Court deliberately rendered a wrong decision as owes duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court
an act of reprisal against the respondent. as the embodiment and the repository of the judicial power in the
government of the Republic. The responsibility of the respondent "to
IV uphold the dignity and authority of this Court' and "not to promote
distrust in the administration of justice 53 is heavier than that of a
The principal defense of respondent Gonzalez is that he was merely private practicing lawyer.
exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He also invokes the
related doctrines of qualified privileged communications and fair Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to
criticism in the public interest. criticize the rulings of this Court, to point out where he feels the Court
may have lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of
Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of criticism is not unlimited. Its limits were marked out by Mr. Justice
free speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all this Castro in In re Almacen which are worth noting
Court. What respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech
and of expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism
and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to that it shall be bonafide and shall not spill over
and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm
interests. One of these fundamental public interests is the exists between fair criticism, on the one hand,
maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the and abuse and slander of courts and the judges
administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair
expression and the integrity of the system of administering justice. criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect
For the protection and maintenance of freedom of expression itself to courts. It is such a misconduct that subjects a
can be secured only within the context of a functioning and orderly lawyer to disciplinary action.
system of dispensing justice, within the context, in other words, of
viable independent institutions for delivery of justice which are The lawyer's duty to render respectful
accepted by the general community. As Mr. Justice Frankfurter put it: subordination to the courts is essential to the
orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the
... A free press is not to be preferred to an assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers even
independent judiciary, nor an independent those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to
judiciary to a free press. Neither has primacy rein up their tempers.
over the other; both are indispensable to a free
society. The freedom of the press in itself xxx xxx xxx 54
presupposes an independent judiciary through
which that freedom may, if necessary be
(Emphasis supplied)
vindicated. And one of the potent means for
assuring judges their independence is a free
press. 50 The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent
has criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to the nature of that
criticism or comment and the manner in which it was carried out.
Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the
following terms:
Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the
Court. The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far as
characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner,
not, however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import of vs.
his words and acts. 55 It is upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, respondent.
out that respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations
and exhibited no repentance. 56 PUNO, J.:

Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury On the line in the cases at bar is the office of the President. Petitioner
to the judiciary has been shown, and points to the fact that this Court Joseph Ejercito Estrada alleges that he is the President on leave
denied his Motion for Reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo claims she is the
27 April 1988 and reiterated and amplified that Decision in its President. The warring personalities are important enough but more
Resolution of 19 May 1988. In the first place, proof of actual damage transcendental are the constitutional issues embedded on the parties'
sustained by a court or the judiciary in general is not essential for a dispute. While the significant issues are many, the jugular issue
finding of contempt or for the application of the disciplinary authority involves the relationship between the ruler and the ruled in a
of the Court. Insofar as the Consolidated Petitions are concerned, democracy, Philippine style.
this Court after careful review of the bases of its 27 April 1988
Decision, denied respondent's Motion for Reconsideration thereof
First, we take a view of the panorama of events that precipitated the
and rejected the public pressures brought to bear upon this Court by
crisis in the office of the President.
the respondent through his much publicized acts and statements for
which he is here being required to account. Obstructing the free and
undisturbed resolution of a particular case is not the only species of In the May 11, 1998 elections, petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada was
injury that the Court has a right and a duty to prevent and redress. elected President while respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was
What is at stake in cases of this kind is the integrity of the judicial elected Vice-President. Some ten (10) million Filipinos voted for the
institutions of the country in general and of the Supreme Court in petitioner believing he would rescue them from life's adversity. Both
particular. Damage to such institutions might not be quantifiable at a petitioner and the respondent were to serve a six-year term
given moment in time but damage there will surely be if acts like commencing on June 30, 1998.
those of respondent Gonzalez are not effectively stopped and
countered. The level of trust and confidence of the general public in From the beginning of his term, however, petitioner was plagued by a
the courts, including the court of last resort, is not easily measured; plethora of problems that slowly but surely eroded his popularity. His
but few will dispute that a high level of such trust and confidence is sharp descent from power started on October 4, 2000. Ilocos Sur
critical for the stability of democratic government. Governor, Luis "Chavit" Singson, a longtime friend of the petitioner,
went on air and accused the petitioner, his family and friends of
Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggests that punishment for contempt receiving millions of pesos from jueteng lords.1
is not the proper remedy in this case and suggests that the members
of this Court have recourse to libel suits against him. While the The exposẻ immediately ignited reactions of rage. The next day,
remedy of libel suits by individual members of this Court may well be October 5, 2000, Senator Teofisto Guingona, Jr., then the Senate
available against respondent Gonzalez, such is by no means an Minority Leader, took the floor and delivered a fiery privilege speech
exclusive remedy. Moreover, where, as in the instant case, it is not entitled "I Accuse." He accused the petitioner of receiving some P220
only the individual members of the Court but the Court itself as an million in jueteng money from Governor Singson from November
institution that has been falsely attacked, libel suits cannot be an 1998 to August 2000. He also charged that the petitioner took from
adequate remedy. 57 Governor Singson P70 million on excise tax on cigarettes intended
for Ilocos Sur. The privilege speech was referred by then Senate
The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of President Franklin Drilon, to the Blue Ribbon Committee (then
contempt of court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an headed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel) and the Committee on Justice
officer of the court and member of the Bar. (then headed by Senator Renato Cayetano) for joint investigation.2

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. The House of Representatives did no less. The House Committee on
Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and until further orders Public Order and Security, then headed by Representative Roilo
from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately. Golez, decided to investigate the exposẻ of Governor Singson. On
the other hand, Representatives Heherson Alvarez, Ernesto Herrera
and Michael Defensor spearheaded the move to impeach the
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Sandiganbayan, the
Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the petitioner.
Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.
Calls for the resignation of the petitioner filled the air. On October 11,
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin issued a pastoral statement in behalf
of the Presbyteral Council of the Archdiocese of Manila, asking
petitioner to step down from the presidency as he had lost the moral
EN BANC authority to govern.3 Two days later or on October 13, the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines joined the cry for the
G.R. No. 146710-15 March 2, 2001 resignation of the petitioner.4 Four days later, or on October 17,
former President Corazon C. Aquino also demanded that the
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, petitioner, petitioner take the "supreme self-sacrifice" of resignation.5 Former
vs. President Fidel Ramos also joined the chorus. Early on, or on
ANIANO DESIERTO, in his capacity as Ombudsman, RAMON October 12, respondent Arroyo resigned as Secretary of the
GONZALES, VOLUNTEERS AGAINST CRIME AND Department of Social Welfare and Services6 and later asked for
CORRUPTION, GRAFT FREE PHILIPPINES FOUNDATION, INC., petitioner's resignation.7 However, petitioner strenuously held on to
LEONARD DE VERA, DENNIS FUNA, ROMEO CAPULONG and his office and refused to resign.
ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR., respondent.
The heat was on. On November 1, four (4) senior economic advisers,
---------------------------------------- members of the Council of Senior Economic Advisers, resigned.
They were Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Prime Minister
G.R. No. 146738 March 2, 2001 Cesar Virata, former Senator Vicente Paterno and Washington
Sycip.8 On November 2, Secretary Mar Roxas II also resigned from
the Department of Trade and Industry.9 On November 3, Senate
President Franklin Drilon, and House Speaker Manuel Villar, together
with some 47 representatives defected from the ruling coalition, On January 19, the fall from power of the petitioner appeared
Lapian ng Masang Pilipino.10 inevitable. At 1:20 p.m., the petitioner informed Executive Secretary
Edgardo Angara that General Angelo Reyes, Chief of Staff of the
The month of November ended with a big bang. In a tumultuous Armed Forces of the Philippines, had defected. At 2:30 p.m.,
session on November 13, House Speaker Villar transmitted the petitioner agreed to the holding of a snap election for President
Articles of Impeachment11 signed by 115 representatives, or more where he would not be a candidate. It did not diffuse the growing
than 1/3 of all the members of the House of Representatives to the crisis. At 3:00 p.m., Secretary of National Defense Orlando Mercado
Senate. This caused political convulsions in both houses of and General Reyes, together with the chiefs of all the armed services
Congress. Senator Drilon was replaced by Senator Pimentel as went to the EDSA Shrine.22 In the presence of former Presidents
Senate President. Speaker Villar was unseated by Representative Aquino and Ramos and hundreds of thousands of cheering
Fuentebella.12 On November 20, the Senate formally opened the demonstrators, General Reyes declared that "on behalf of Your
impeachment trial of the petitioner. Twenty-one (21) senators took Armed Forces, the 130,000 strong members of the Armed Forces,
their oath as judges with Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario G. we wish to announce that we are withdrawing our support to this
Davide, Jr., presiding.13 government."23 A little later, PNP Chief, Director General Panfilo
Lacson and the major service commanders gave a similar stunning
announcement.24 Some Cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries,
The political temperature rose despite the cold December. On
assistant secretaries, and bureau chiefs quickly resigned from their
December 7, the impeachment trial started.14 The battle royale was
posts.25 Rallies for the resignation of the petitioner exploded in
fought by some of the marquee names in the legal profession.
various parts of the country. To stem the tide of rage, petitioner
Standing as prosecutors were then House Minority Floor Leader
announced he was ordering his lawyers to agree to the opening of
Feliciano Belmonte and Representatives Joker Arroyo, Wigberto
the highly controversial second envelope.26There was no turning
Tañada, Sergio Apostol, Raul Gonzales, Oscar Moreno, Salacnib
back the tide. The tide had become a tsunami.
Baterina, Roan Libarios, Oscar Rodriguez, Clavel Martinez and
Antonio Nachura. They were assisted by a battery of private
prosecutors led by now Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez and January 20 turned to be the day of surrender. At 12:20 a.m., the first
now Solicitor General Simeon Marcelo. Serving as defense counsel round of negotiations for the peaceful and orderly transfer of power
were former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa, former Solicitor General started at Malacañang'' Mabini Hall, Office of the Executive
and Secretary of Justice Estelito P. Mendoza, former City Fiscal of Secretary. Secretary Edgardo Angara, Senior Deputy Executive
Manila Jose Flaminiano, former Deputy Speaker of the House Raul Secretary Ramon Bagatsing, Political Adviser Angelito Banayo, Asst.
Daza, Atty. Siegfried Fortun and his brother, Atty. Raymund Fortun. Secretary Boying Remulla, and Atty. Macel Fernandez, head of the
The day to day trial was covered by live TV and during its course Presidential Management Staff, negotiated for the petitioner.
enjoyed the highest viewing rating. Its high and low points were the Respondent Arroyo was represented by now Executive Secretary
constant conversational piece of the chattering classes. The dramatic Renato de Villa, now Secretary of Finance Alberto Romulo and now
point of the December hearings was the testimony of Clarissa Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez.27 Outside the palace, there
Ocampo, senior vice president of Equitable-PCI Bank. She testified was a brief encounter at Mendiola between pro and anti-Estrada
that she was one foot away from petitioner Estrada when he affixed protesters which resulted in stone-throwing and caused minor
the signature "Jose Velarde" on documents involving a P500 million injuries. The negotiations consumed all morning until the news broke
investment agreement with their bank on February 4, 2000.15 out that Chief Justice Davide would administer the oath to
respondent Arroyo at high noon at the EDSA Shrine.
After the testimony of Ocampo, the impeachment trial was adjourned
in the spirit of Christmas. When it resumed on January 2, 2001, more At about 12:00 noon, Chief Justice Davide administered the oath to
bombshells were exploded by the prosecution. On January 11, Atty. respondent Arroyo as President of the Philippines.28 At 2:30 p.m.,
Edgardo Espiritu who served as petitioner's Secretary of Finance petitioner and his family hurriedly left Malacañang Palace.29 He
took the witness stand. He alleged that the petitioner jointly owned issued the following press statement:30
BW Resources Corporation with Mr. Dante Tan who was facing
charges of insider trading.16 Then came the fateful day of January 16, "20 January 2001
when by a vote of 11-1017 the senator-judges ruled against the
opening of the second envelope which allegedly contained evidence STATEMENT FROM
showing that petitioner held P3.3 billion in a secret bank account
under the name "Jose Velarde." The public and private prosecutors
PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA
walked out in protest of the ruling. In disgust, Senator Pimentel
resigned as Senate President.18 The ruling made at 10:00 p.m. was
met by a spontaneous outburst of anger that hit the streets of the At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice President Gloria
metropolis. By midnight, thousands had assembled at the EDSA Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President of the
Shrine and speeches full of sulphur were delivered against the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other
petitioner and the eleven (11) senators. legal minds of our country, I have strong and serious
doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her
proclamation as President, I do not wish to be a factor that
On January 17, the public prosecutors submitted a letter to Speaker
will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil
Fuentebella tendering their collective resignation. They also filed their
society.
Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance with the impeachment
tribunal.19Senator Raul Roco quickly moved for the indefinite
postponement of the impeachment proceedings until the House of It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace,
Representatives shall have resolved the issue of resignation of the the seat of the presidency of this country, for the sake of
public prosecutors. Chief Justice Davide granted the motion.20 peace and in order to begin the healing process of our
nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for
the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I
January 18 saw the high velocity intensification of the call for
will not shirk from any future challenges that may come
petitioner's resignation. A 10-kilometer line of people holding lighted
ahead in the same service of our country.
candles formed a human chain from the Ninoy Aquino Monument on
Ayala Avenue in Makati City to the EDSA Shrine to symbolize the
people's solidarity in demanding petitioner's resignation. Students I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in to
and teachers walked out of their classes in Metro Manila to show promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation
their concordance. Speakers in the continuing rallies at the EDSA and solidarity.
Shrine, all masters of the physics of persuasion, attracted more and
more people.21 May the Almighty bless our country and beloved people.
MABUHAY! On February 6, respondent Arroyo nominated Senator Teofisto
Guingona, Jr., as her Vice President.42 The next day, February 7, the
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA" Senate adopted Resolution No. 82 confirming the nomination of
Senator Guingona, Jr.43Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Juan
Ponce Enrile, and John Osmena voted "yes" with reservations, citing
It also appears that on the same day, January 20, 2001, he signed
as reason therefor the pending challenge on the legitimacy of
the following letter:31
respondent Arroyo's presidency before the Supreme Court. Senators
Teresa Aquino-Oreta and Robert Barbers were absent.44 The House
"Sir: of Representatives also approved Senator Guingona's nomination in
Resolution No. 178.45 Senator Guingona, Jr. took his oath as Vice
By virtue of the provisions of Section 11, Article VII of the President two (2) days later.46
Constitution, I am hereby transmitting this declaration that I
am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my office. On February 7, the Senate passed Resolution No. 83 declaring that
By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice- the impeachment court is functus officio and has been
President shall be the Acting President. terminated.47 Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago stated "for the
record" that she voted against the closure of the impeachment court
(Sgd.) JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA" on the grounds that the Senate had failed to decide on the
impeachment case and that the resolution left open the question of
A copy of the letter was sent to former Speaker Fuentebella at 8:30 whether Estrada was still qualified to run for another elective post.48
a.m. on January 20.23 Another copy was transmitted to Senate
President Pimentel on the same day although it was received only at Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, President Arroyo's
9:00 p.m.33 public acceptance rating jacked up from 16% on January 20, 2001 to
38% on January 26, 2001.49 In another survey conducted by the
On January 22, the Monday after taking her oath, respondent Arroyo ABS-CBN/SWS from February 2-7, 2001, results showed that 61% of
immediately discharged the powers the duties of the Presidency. On the Filipinos nationwide accepted President Arroyo as replacement of
the same day, this Court issued the following Resolution in petitioner Estrada. The survey also revealed that President Arroyo is
Administrative Matter No. 01-1-05-SC, to wit: accepted by 60% in Metro Manila, by also 60% in the balance of
Luzon, by 71% in the Visayas, and 55% in Mindanao. Her trust rating
"A.M. No. 01-1-05-SC — In re: Request of Vice President increased to 52%. Her presidency is accepted by majorities in all
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Take her Oath of Office as social classes: 58% in the ABC or middle-to-upper classes, 64% in
President of the Republic of the Philippines before the the D or mass class, and 54% among the E's or very poor class.50
Chief Justice — Acting on the urgent request of Vice
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be sworn in as After his fall from the pedestal of power, the petitioner's legal
President of the Republic of the Philippines, addressed to problems appeared in clusters. Several cases previously filed against
the Chief Justice and confirmed by a letter to the Court, him in the Office of the Ombudsman were set in motion. These are:
dated January 20, 2001, which request was treated as an (1) OMB Case No. 0-00-1629, filed by Ramon A. Gonzales on
administrative matter, the court Resolve unanimously to October 23, 2000 for bribery and graft and corruption; (2) OMB Case
confirm the authority given by the twelve (12) members of No. 0-00-1754 filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption
the Court then present to the Chief Justice on January 20, on November 17, 2000 for plunder, forfeiture, graft and corruption,
2001 to administer the oath of office of Vice President bribery, perjury, serious misconduct, violation of the Code of Conduct
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Philippines, at for Government Employees, etc; (3) OMB Case No. 0-00-1755 filed
noon of January 20, 2001.1âwphi1.nêt by the Graft Free Philippines Foundation, Inc. on November 24, 2000
for plunder, forfeiture, graft and corruption, bribery, perjury, serious
This resolution is without prejudice to the disposition of any misconduct; (4) OMB Case No. 0-00-1756 filed by Romeo Capulong,
justiciable case that may be filed by a proper party." et al., on November 28, 2000 for malversation of public funds, illegal
use of public funds and property, plunder, etc.; (5) OMB Case No. 0-
00-1757 filed by Leonard de Vera, et al., on November 28, 2000 for
Respondent Arroyo appointed members of her Cabinet as well as
bribery, plunder, indirect bribery, violation of PD 1602, PD 1829, PD
ambassadors and special envoys.34 Recognition of respondent
46, and RA 7080; and (6) OMB Case No. 0-00-1758 filed by Ernesto
Arroyo's government by foreign governments swiftly followed. On
B. Francisco, Jr. on December 4, 2000 for plunder, graft and
January 23, in a reception or vin d' honneur at Malacañang, led by
corruption.
the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Papal Nuncio Antonio Franco,
more than a hundred foreign diplomats recognized the government of
respondent Arroyo.35 US President George W. Bush gave the A special panel of investigators was forthwith created by the
respondent a telephone call from the White House conveying US respondent Ombudsman to investigate the charges against the
recognition of her government.36 petitioner. It is chaired by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Margarito P.
Gervasio with the following as members, viz: Director Andrew
Amuyutan, Prosecutor Pelayo Apostol, Atty. Jose de Jesus and Atty.
On January 24, Representative Feliciano Belmonte was elected new
Emmanuel Laureso. On January 22, the panel issued an Order
Speaker of the House of Representatives.37The House then passed
directing the petitioner to file his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of
Resolution No. 175 "expressing the full support of the House of
his witnesses as well as other supporting documents in answer to the
Representatives to the administration of Her Excellency, Gloria
aforementioned complaints against him.
Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines."38 It also approved
Resolution No. 176 "expressing the support of the House of
Representatives to the assumption into office by Vice President Thus, the stage for the cases at bar was set. On February 5,
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of the petitioner filed with this Court GR No. 146710-15, a petition for
Philippines, extending its congratulations and expressing its support prohibition with a prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction. It sought
for her administration as a partner in the attainment of the nation's to enjoin the respondent Ombudsman from "conducting any further
goals under the Constitution."39 proceedings in Case Nos. OMB 0-00-1629, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757
and 1758 or in any other criminal complaint that may be filed in his
office, until after the term of petitioner as President is over and only if
On January 26, the respondent signed into law the Solid Waste
legally warranted." Thru another counsel, petitioner, on February 6,
Management Act.40 A few days later, she also signed into law the
filed GR No. 146738 for Quo Warranto. He prayed for judgment
Political Advertising ban and Fair Election Practices Act.41
"confirming petitioner to be the lawful and incumbent President of the
Republic of the Philippines temporarily unable to discharge the duties
of his office, and declaring respondent to have taken her oath as and
to be holding the Office of the President, only in an acting capacity Whether the prosecution of petitioner Estrada should be
pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution." Acting on GR Nos. enjoined on the ground of prejudicial publicity.
146710-15, the Court, on the same day, February 6, required the
respondents "to comment thereon within a non-extendible period We shall discuss the issues in seriatim.
expiring on 12 February 2001." On February 13, the Court ordered
the consolidation of GR Nos. 146710-15 and GR No. 146738 and the
I
filing of the respondents' comments "on or before 8:00 a.m. of
February 15."
Whether or not the cases
On February 15, the consolidated cases were orally argued in a four-
hour hearing. Before the hearing, Chief Justice Davide, Jr.51 and At bar involve a political question
Associate Justice Artemio Panganiban52 recused themselves on
motion of petitioner's counsel, former Senator Rene A. Saguisag. Private respondents54 raise the threshold issue that the cases at bar
They debunked the charge of counsel Saguisag that they have pose a political question, and hence, are beyond the jurisdiction of
"compromised themselves by indicating that they have thrown their this Court to decide. They contend that shorn of its embroideries, the
weight on one side" but nonetheless inhibited themselves. cases at bar assail the "legitimacy of the Arroyo administration." They
Thereafter, the parties were given the short period of five (5) days to stress that respondent Arroyo ascended the presidency through
file their memoranda and two (2) days to submit their simultaneous people power; that she has already taken her oath as the
replies. 14th President of the Republic; that she has exercised the powers of
the presidency and that she has been recognized by foreign
In a resolution dated February 20, acting on the urgent motion for governments. They submit that these realities on ground constitute
copies of resolution and press statement for "Gag Order" on the political thicket, which the Court cannot enter.
respondent Ombudsman filed by counsel for petitioner in G.R. No.
146738, the Court resolved: We reject private respondents' submission. To be sure, courts here
and abroad, have tried to lift the shroud on political question but its
"(1) to inform the parties that the Court did not issue a exact latitude still splits the best of legal minds. Developed by the
resolution on January 20, 2001 declaring the office of the courts in the 20th century, the political question doctrine which rests
President vacant and that neither did the Chief Justice on the principle of separation of powers and on prudential
issue a press statement justifying the alleged resolution; considerations, continue to be refined in the mills of constitutional
law.55 In the United States, the most authoritative guidelines to
determine whether a question is political were spelled out by Mr.
(2) to order the parties and especially their counsel who are
Justice Brennan in the 1962 case or Baker v. Carr,56 viz:
officers of the Court under pain of being cited for contempt
to refrain from making any comment or discussing in public
the merits of the cases at bar while they are still pending "x x x Prominent on the surface of any case held to involve
decision by the Court, and a political question is found a textually demonstrable
constitutional commitment of the issue to a coordinate
political department or a lack of judicially discoverable and
(3) to issue a 30-day status quo order effective immediately
manageable standards for resolving it, or the impossibility
enjoining the respondent Ombudsman from resolving or
of deciding without an initial policy determination of a kind
deciding the criminal cases pending investigation in his
clearly for non-judicial discretion; or the impossibility of a
office against petitioner, Joseph E. Estrada and subject of
court's undertaking independent resolution without
the cases at bar, it appearing from news reports that the
expressing lack of the respect due coordinate branches of
respondent Ombudsman may immediately resolve the
government; or an unusual need for unquestioning
cases against petitioner Joseph E. Estrada seven (7) days
adherence to a political decision already made; or the
after the hearing held on February 15, 2001, which action
potentiality of embarrassment from multifarious
will make the cases at bar moot and academic."53
pronouncements by various departments on question.
Unless one of these formulations is inextricable from the
The parties filed their replies on February 24. On this date, the cases case at bar, there should be no dismissal for non
at bar were deemed submitted for decision. justiciability on the ground of a political question's
presence. The doctrine of which we treat is one of 'political
The bedrock issues for resolution of this Court are: questions', not of 'political cases'."

I In the Philippine setting, this Court has been continuously confronted


with cases calling for a firmer delineation of the inner and outer
Whether the petitions present a justiciable controversy. perimeters of a political question.57 Our leading case is Tanada v.
Cuenco,58 where this Court, through former Chief Justice Roberto
Concepcion, held that political questions refer "to those questions
II
which, under the Constitution, are to be decided by the people in
their sovereign capacity, or in regard to which full discretionary
Assuming that the petitions present a justiciable authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive branch
controversy, whether petitioner Estrada is a President on of the government. It is concerned with issues dependent upon
leave while respondent Arroyo is an Acting President. the wisdom, not legality of a particular measure." To a great degree,
the 1987 Constitution has narrowed the reach of the political question
III doctrine when it expanded the power of judicial review of this court
not only to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
Whether conviction in the impeachment proceedings is a legally demandable and enforceable but also to determine whether
condition precedent for the criminal prosecution of or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to
petitioner Estrada. In the negative and on the assumption lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
that petitioner is still President, whether he is immune from instrumentality of government.59 Heretofore, the judiciary has
criminal prosecution. focused on the "thou shalt not's" of the Constitution directed against
the exercise of its jurisdiction.60With the new provision, however,
IV courts are given a greater prerogative to determine what it can do to
prevent grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of
government. Clearly, the new provision did not just grant the Thence on, the guaranty was set in stone in our 1935
Court power of doing nothing. In sync and symmetry with this Constitution,67 and the 197368 Constitution. These rights are now
intent are other provisions of the 1987 Constitution trimming the so safely ensconced in section 4, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, viz:
called political thicket. Prominent of these provisions is section 18 of
Article VII which empowers this Court in limpid language to "x x x "Sec. 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of
review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the
sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or people peaceably to assemble and petition the government
the suspension of the privilege of the writ (of habeas corpus) or the for redress of grievances."
extension thereof x x x."
The indispensability of the people's freedom of speech and of
Respondents rely on the case of Lawyers League for a Better assembly to democracy is now self-evident. The reasons are well put
Philippines and/or Oliver A. Lozano v. President Corazon C. by Emerson: first, freedom of expression is essential as a means of
Aquino, et al.61 and related cases62 to support their thesis that since assuring individual fulfillment; second, it is an essential process for
the cases at bar involve the legitimacy of the government of advancing knowledge and discovering truth; third, it is essential to
respondent Arroyo, ergo, they present a political question. A more provide for participation in decision-making by all members of
cerebral reading of the cited cases will show that they are society; and fourth, it is a method of achieving a more adaptable and
inapplicable. In the cited cases, we held that the government of hence, a more stable community of maintaining the precarious
former President Aquino was the result of a successful balance between healthy cleavage and necessary consensus."69 In
revolution by the sovereign people, albeit a peaceful one. No less this sense, freedom of speech and of assembly provides a
than the Freedom Constitution63 declared that the Aquino framework in which the "conflict necessary to the progress of a
government was installed through a direct exercise of the power of society can take place without destroying the
the Filipino people "in defiance of the provisions of the 1973 society."70In Hague v. Committee for Industrial
Constitution, as amended." In is familiar learning that the Organization,71 this function of free speech and assembly was
legitimacy of a government sired by a successful revolution by echoed in the amicus curiae filed by the Bill of Rights Committee of
people power is beyond judicial scrutiny for that government the American Bar Association which emphasized that "the basis of
automatically orbits out of the constitutional loop. In checkered the right of assembly is the substitution of the expression of opinion
contrast, the government of respondent Arroyo is not and belief by talk rather than force; and this means talk for all and
revolutionary in character. The oath that she took at the EDSA by all."72 In the relatively recent case of Subayco v.
Shrine is the oath under the 1987 Constitution.64 In her oath, she Sandiganbayan,73 this Court similar stressed that "… it should be
categorically swore to preserve and defend the 1987 clear even to those with intellectual deficits that when the sovereign
Constitution. Indeed, she has stressed that she is discharging the people assemble to petition for redress of grievances, all should
powers of the presidency under the authority of the 1987 listen. For in a democracy, it is the people who count; those who
Constitution. are deaf to their grievances are ciphers."

In fine, the legal distinction between EDSA People Power I EDSA Needless to state, the cases at bar pose legal and not political
People Power II is clear. EDSA I involves the exercise of the people questions. The principal issues for resolution require the proper
power of revolution which overthrew the whole government. interpretation of certain provisions in the 1987 Constitution, notably
EDSA II is an exercise of people power of freedom of speech and section 1 of Article II,74 and section 875 of Article VII, and the
freedom of assembly to petition the government for redress of allocation of governmental powers under section 1176 of Article VII.
grievances which only affected the office of the President. EDSA The issues likewise call for a ruling on the scope of presidential
I is extra constitutional and the legitimacy of the new government immunity from suit. They also involve the correct calibration of the
that resulted from it cannot be the subject of judicial review, right of petitioner against prejudicial publicity. As early as the 1803
but EDSA II is intra constitutional and the resignation of the sitting case of Marbury v. Madison,77 the doctrine has been laid down that
President that it caused and the succession of the Vice President as "it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial
President are subject to judicial review. EDSA I presented a department to say what the law is . . ." Thus, respondent's in
political question; EDSA II involves legal questions. A brief vocation of the doctrine of political question is but a foray in the dark.
discourse on freedom of speech and of the freedom of assembly to
petition the government for redress of grievance which are
II
the cutting edge of EDSA People Power II is not inappropriate.
Whether or not the petitioner
Freedom of speech and the right of assembly are treasured by
Resigned as President
Filipinos. Denial of these rights was one of the reasons of our 1898
revolution against Spain. Our national hero, Jose P. Rizal, raised the
clarion call for the recognition of freedom of the press of the Filipinos We now slide to the second issue. None of the parties considered
and included it as among "the reforms sine quibus this issue as posing a political question. Indeed, it involves a legal
non."65 The Malolos Constitution, which is the work of the question whose factual ingredient is determinable from the records of
revolutionary Congress in 1898, provided in its Bill of Rights that the case and by resort to judicial notice. Petitioner denies he
Filipinos shall not be deprived (1) of the right to freely express his resigned as President or that he suffers from a permanent disability.
ideas or opinions, orally or in writing, through the use of the press or Hence, he submits that the office of the President was not vacant
other similar means; (2) of the right of association for purposes of when respondent Arroyo took her oath as President.
human life and which are not contrary to public means; and (3) of the
right to send petitions to the authorities, individually or The issue brings under the microscope the meaning of section 8,
collectively." These fundamental rights were preserved when the Article VII of the Constitution which provides:
United States acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines. In the
Instruction to the Second Philippine Commission of April 7, 1900 "Sec. 8. In case of death, permanent disability, removal
issued by President McKinley, it is specifically provided "that no law from office or resignation of the President, the Vice
shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of President shall become the President to serve the
the rights of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the unexpired term. In case of death, permanent disability,
Government for redress of grievances." The guaranty was carried removal from office, or resignation of both the President
over in the Philippine Bill, the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902 and the and Vice President, the President of the Senate or, in case
Jones Law, the Act of Congress of August 29, 1966.66 of his inability, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, shall then act as President until the
President or Vice President shall have been elected and
qualified.
x x x." Senator Pimentel repeated to the petitioner the urgency of making a
graceful and dignified exit. He gave the proposal a sweetener by
The issue then is whether the petitioner resigned as President or saying that petitioner would be allowed to go abroad with enough
should be considered resigned as of January 20, 2001 when funds to support him and his family.83 Significantly, the petitioner
respondent took her oath as the 14th President of the Public. expressed no objection to the suggestion for a graceful and
Resignation is not a high level legal abstraction. It is a factual dignified exit but said he would never leave the country.84 At
question and its elements are beyond quibble: there must be an 10:00 p.m., petitioner revealed to Secretary Angara, "Ed, Angie
intent to resign and the intent must be coupled by acts of (Reyes) guaranteed that I would have five days to a week in the
relinquishment.78 The validity of a resignation is not government by palace."85 This is proof that petitioner had reconciled himself to
any formal requirement as to form. It can be oral. It can be written. It the reality that he had to resign. His mind was already
can be express. It can be implied. As long as the resignation is clear, concerned with the five-day grace period he could stay in the
it must be given legal effect. palace. It was a matter of time.

In the cases at bar, the facts show that petitioner did not write any The pressure continued piling up. By 11:00 p.m., former President
formal letter of resignation before he evacuated Malacañang Palace Ramos called up Secretary Angara and requested, "Ed, magtulungan
in the afternoon of January 20, 2001 after the oath-taking of tayo para magkaroon tayo ng (let's cooperate to ensure a) peaceful
respondent Arroyo. Consequently, whether or not petitioner resigned and orderly transfer of power."86 There was no defiance to the
has to be determined from his act and omissions before, during and request. Secretary Angara readily agreed. Again, we note that at this
after January 20, 2001 or by the totality of prior, stage, the problem was already about a peaceful and orderly
contemporaneous and posterior facts and circumstantial transfer of power. The resignation of the petitioner was implied.
evidence bearing a material relevance on the issue.
The first negotiation for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power
Using this totality test, we hold that petitioner resigned as immediately started at 12:20 a.m. of January 20, that fateful
President. Saturday. The negotiation was limited to three (3) points: (1) the
transition period of five days after the petitioner's resignation; (2) the
guarantee of the safety of the petitioner and his family, and (3) the
To appreciate the public pressure that led to the resignation of the
agreement to open the second envelope to vindicate the name of the
petitioner, it is important to follow the succession of events after the
petitioner.87 Again, we note that the resignation of petitioner was
exposẻ of Governor Singson. The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee
not a disputed point. The petitioner cannot feign ignorance of
investigated. The more detailed revelations of petitioner's alleged
this fact. According to Secretary Angara, at 2:30 a.m., he briefed the
misgovernance in the Blue Ribbon investigation spiked the hate
petitioner on the three points and the following entry in the Angara
against him. The Articles of Impeachment filed in the House of
Diary shows the reaction of the petitioner, viz:
Representatives which initially was given a near cipher chance of
succeeding snowballed. In express speed, it gained the signatures of
115 representatives or more than 1/3 of the House of "x x x
Representatives. Soon, petitioner's powerful political allies began
deserting him. Respondent Arroyo quit as Secretary of Social I explain what happened during the first round of
Welfare. Senate President Drilon and former Speaker Villar defected negotiations. The President immediately stresses that he
with 47 representatives in tow. Then, his respected senior economic just wants the five-day period promised by Reyes, as well
advisers resigned together with his Secretary of Trade and Industry. as to open the second envelope to clear his name.

As the political isolation of the petitioner worsened, the people's call If the envelope is opened, on Monday, he says, he will
for his resignation intensified. The call reached a new crescendo leave by Monday.
when the eleven (11) members of the impeachment tribunal refused
to open the second envelope. It sent the people to paroxysms of The President says. "Pagod na pagod na ako. Ayoko na
outrage. Before the night of January 16 was over, the EDSA Shrine masyado nang masakit. Pagod na ako sa red tape,
was swarming with people crying for redress of their grievance. Their bureaucracy, intriga. (I am very tired. I don't want any
number grew exponentially. Rallies and demonstration quickly more of this – it's too painful. I'm tired of the red tape,
spread to the countryside like a brush fire. the bureaucracy, the intrigue.)

As events approached January 20, we can have an authoritative I just want to clear my name, then I will go."88
window on the state of mind of the petitioner. The window is
provided in the "Final Days of Joseph Ejercito Estrada," the diary of Again, this is high grade evidence that the petitioner has
Executive Secretary Angara serialized in the Philippine Daily resigned. The intent to resign is clear when he said "x x x Ayoko
Inquirer.79 The Angara Diary reveals that in the morning of January na masyado nang masakit." "Ayoko na" are words of resignation.
19, petitioner's loyal advisers were worried about the swelling of the
crowd at EDSA, hence, they decided to create an ad hoc committee
to handle it. Their worry would worsen. At 1:20 p.m., petitioner pulled The second round of negotiation resumed at 7:30 a.m. According
Secretary Angara into his small office at the presidential residence to the Angara Diary, the following happened:
and exclaimed: "Ed, seryoso na ito. Kumalas na si Angelo (Reyes)
(Ed, this is serious. Angelo has defected.)"80 An hour later or at 2:30 "Opposition's deal
p.m., the petitioner decided to call for a snap presidential
election and stressed he would not be a candidate. The proposal 7:30 a.m. – Rene arrives with Bert Romulo and (Ms.
for a snap election for president in May where he would not be a Macapagal's spokesperson) Rene Corona. For this round, I
candidate is an indicium that petitioner had intended to give up am accompanied by Dondon Bagatsing and Macel.
the presidency even at that time. At 3:00 p.m., General Reyes
joined the sea of EDSA demonstrators demanding the resignation of Rene pulls out a document titled "Negotiating Points." It
the petitioner and dramatically announced the AFP's withdrawal of reads:
support from the petitioner and their pledge of support to respondent
Arroyo. The seismic shift of support left petitioner weak as a
'1. The President shall sign a resignation document within
president. According to Secretary Angara, he asked Senator
the day, 20 January 2001, that will be effective on
Pimentel to advise petitioner to consider the option of "dignified exit
Wednesday, 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice
or resignation."81 Petitioner did not disagree but listened
President will assume the Presidency of the Republic of the
intently.82 The sky was falling fast on the petitioner. At 9:30 p.m.,
Philippines.
2. Beginning to day, 20 January 2001, the transition The second round of negotiation cements the reading that the
process for the assumption of the new administration shall petitioner has resigned. It will be noted that during this second round
commence, and persons designated by the Vice President of negotiation, the resignation of the petitioner was again treated as a
to various positions and offices of the government shall given fact. The only unsettled points at that time were the measures
start their orientation activities in coordination with the to be undertaken by the parties during and after the transition period.
incumbent officials concerned.
According to Secretary Angara, the draft agreement, which was
3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine premised on the resignation of the petitioner was further refined. It
National Police shall function under the Vice President as was then, signed by their side and he was ready to fax it to General
national military and police authority effective immediately. Reyes and Senator Pimentel to await the signature of the United
Opposition. However, the signing by the party of the respondent
4. The Armed Forced of the Philippines, through its Chief of Arroyo was aborted by her oath-taking. The Angara diary narrates
Staff, shall guarantee the security of the President and his the fateful events, viz;90
family as approved by the national military and police
authority (Vice President). "xxx

5. It is to be noted that the Senate will open the second 11:00 a.m. – Between General Reyes and myself, there is
envelope in connection with the alleged savings account of a firm agreement on the five points to effect a peaceful
the President in the Equitable PCI Bank in accordance with transition. I can hear the general clearing all these points
the rules of the Senate, pursuant to the request to the with a group he is with. I hear voices in the background.
Senate President.
Agreement.
Our deal
The agreement starts: 1. The President shall resign today,
We bring out, too, our discussion draft which reads: 20 January 2001, which resignation shall be effective on 24
January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume
The undersigned parties, for and in behalf of their the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.
respective principals, agree and undertake as follows:
xxx
'1. A transition will occur and take place on Wednesday, 24
January 2001, at which time President Joseph Ejercito The rest of the agreement follows:
Estrada will turn over the presidency to Vice President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 2. The transition process for the assumption of the new
administration shall commence on 20 January 2001,
'2. In return, President Estrada and his families are wherein persons designated by the Vice President to
guaranteed security and safety of their person and property various government positions shall start orientation
throughout their natural lifetimes. Likewise, President activities with incumbent officials.
Estrada and his families are guarantee freedom from
persecution or retaliation from government and the private '3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its Chief of
sector throughout their natural lifetimes. Staff, shall guarantee the safety and security of the
President and his families throughout their natural lifetimes
This commitment shall be guaranteed by the Armed Forces as approved by the national military and police authority –
of the Philippines (AFP) through the Chief of Staff, as Vice President.
approved by the national military and police authorities –
Vice President (Macapagal). '4. The AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall
function under the Vice President as national military and
'3. Both parties shall endeavor to ensure that the Senate police authorities.
sitting as an impeachment court will authorize the opening
of the second envelope in the impeachment trial as proof '5. Both parties request the impeachment court to open the
that the subject savings account does not belong to second envelope in the impeachment trial, the contents of
President Estrada. which shall be offered as proof that the subject savings
account does not belong to the President.
'4. During the five-day transition period between 20
January 2001 and 24 January 2001 (the 'Transition The Vice President shall issue a public statement in the
Period"), the incoming Cabinet members shall receive an form and tenor provided for in Annex "B" heretofore
appropriate briefing from the outgoing Cabinet officials as attached to this agreement.
part of the orientation program.
11:20 a.m. – I am all set to fax General Reyes and Nene
During the Transition Period, the AFP and the Philippine Pimentel our agreement, signed by our side and awaiting
National Police (PNP) shall function Vice President the signature of the United opposition.
(Macapagal) as national military and police authorities.
And then it happens. General Reyes calls me to say that
Both parties hereto agree that the AFP chief of staff and the Supreme Court has decided that Gloria Macapagal-
PNP director general shall obtain all the necessary Arroyo is President and will be sworn in at 12 noon.
signatures as affixed to this agreement and insure faithful
implementation and observance thereof.
'Bakit hindi naman kayo nakahintay? Paano na ang
agreement (why couldn't you wait? What about the
Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shall issue a agreement)?' I asked.
public statement in the form and tenor provided for in
"Annex A" heretofore attached to this agreement."89
Reyes answered: 'Wala na, sir (it's over, sir).'
I ask him: Di yung transition period, moot and academic I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the
na?' promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation
and solidarity.
And General Reyes answers: ' Oo nga, I delete na natin, sir
(yes, we're deleting the part).' May the Almighty bless our country and our beloved
people.
Contrary to subsequent reports, I do not react and say that
there was a double cross. MABUHAY!"'

But I immediately instruct Macel to delete the first provision It was curtain time for the petitioner.
on resignation since this matter is already moot and
academic. Within moments, Macel erases the first In sum, we hold that the resignation of the petitioner cannot be
provision and faxes the documents, which have been doubted. It was confirmed by his leaving Malacañang. In the press
signed by myself, Dondon and Macel, to Nene Pimentel release containing his final statement, (1) he acknowledged the oath-
and General Reyes. taking of the respondent as President of the Republic albeit with
reservation about its legality; (2) he emphasized he was leaving the
I direct Demaree Ravel to rush the original document to Palace, the seat of the presidency, for the sake of peace and in order
General Reyes for the signatures of the other side, as it is to begin the healing process of our nation. He did not say he was
important that the provisions on security, at least, should leaving the Palace due to any kind inability and that he was going to
be respected. re-assume the presidency as soon as the disability disappears: (3)
he expressed his gratitude to the people for the opportunity to serve
I then advise the President that the Supreme Court has them. Without doubt, he was referring to the past opportunity given
ruled that Chief Justice Davide will administer the oath to him to serve the people as President (4) he assured that he will not
Gloria at 12 noon. shirk from any future challenge that may come ahead in the same
service of our country. Petitioner's reference is to a future challenge
after occupying the office of the president which he has given up; and
The President is too stunned for words:
(5) he called on his supporters to join him in the promotion of a
constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity. Certainly,
Final meal the national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity could not be attained
if he did not give up the presidency. The press release was
12 noon – Gloria takes her oath as president of the petitioner's valedictory, his final act of farewell. His presidency is now
Republic of the Philippines. in the part tense.

12:20 p.m. – The PSG distributes firearms to some people It is, however, urged that the petitioner did not resign but only took a
inside the compound. temporary leave dated January 20, 2001 of the petitioner sent to
Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Fuentebella is cited. Again,
The president is having his final meal at the presidential we refer to the said letter, viz:
Residence with the few friends and Cabinet members who
have gathered. "Sir.

By this time, demonstrators have already broken down the By virtue of the provisions of Section II, Article VII of the
first line of defense at Mendiola. Only the PSG is there to Constitution, I am hereby transmitting this declaration that I
protect the Palace, since the police and military have am unable to exercise the powers and duties of my office.
already withdrawn their support for the President. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice
President shall be the Acting president.
1 p.m. – The President's personal staff is rushing to pack
as many of the Estrada family's personal possessions as (Sgd.) Joseph Ejercito Estrada"
they can.
To say the least, the above letter is wrapped in mystery.91 The
During lunch, Ronnie Puno mentions that the president pleadings filed by the petitioner in the cases at bar did not discuss,
needs to release a final statement before leaving may even intimate, the circumstances that led to its preparation.
Malacañang. Neither did the counsel of the petitioner reveal to the Court these
circumstances during the oral argument. It strikes the Court as
The statement reads: At twelve o'clock noon today, Vice strange that the letter, despite its legal value, was never referred to
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as by the petitioner during the week-long crisis. To be sure, there was
President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along not the slightest hint of its existence when he issued his final press
with many other legal minds of our country, I have strong release. It was all too easy for him to tell the Filipino people in his
and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality press release that he was temporarily unable to govern and that he
of her proclamation as President, I do not wish to be a was leaving the reins of government to respondent Arroyo for the
factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in time bearing. Under any circumstance, however, the mysterious
our civil society. letter cannot negate the resignation of the petitioner. If it was
prepared before the press release of the petitioner clearly as a later
It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, act. If, however, it was prepared after the press released, still, it
the seat of the presidency of this country, for the sake of commands scant legal significance. Petitioner's resignation from the
peace and in order to begin the healing process of our presidency cannot be the subject of a changing caprice nor of a
nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for whimsical will especially if the resignation is the result of his
the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I reputation by the people. There is another reason why this Court
will not shirk from any future challenges that may come cannot given any legal significance to petitioner's letter and this shall
ahead in the same service of our country. be discussed in issue number III of this Decision.

After petitioner contended that as a matter of fact he did not resign,


he also argues that he could not resign as a matter of law. He relies
on section 12 of RA No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-graft and Petitioner contends that the impeachment proceeding is an
Corrupt Practices Act, which allegedly prohibits his resignation, viz: administrative investigation that, under section 12 of RA 3019, bars
him from resigning. We hold otherwise. The exact nature of an
"Sec. 12. No public officer shall be allowed to resign or impeachment proceeding is debatable. But even
retire pending an investigation, criminals or administrative, assuming arguendo that it is an administrative proceeding, it can not
or pending a prosecution against him, for any offense be considered pending at the time petitioner resigned because the
under this Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal process already broke down when a majority of the senator-judges
Code on bribery." voted against the opening of the second envelope, the public and
private prosecutors walked out, the public prosecutors filed their
Manifestation of Withdrawal of Appearance, and the proceedings
A reading of the legislative history of RA No. 3019 will hardly provide
were postponed indefinitely. There was, in effect, no impeachment
any comfort to the petitioner. RA No. 3019 originated form Senate Bill
case pending against petitioner when he resigned.
No. 293. The original draft of the bill, when it was submitted to the
Senate, did not contain a provision similar to section 12 of the law as
it now stands. However, in his sponsorship speech, Senator Arturo III
Tolentino, the author of the bill, "reserved to propose during the
period of amendments the inclusion of a provision to the effect that Whether or not the petitioner Is only temporarily unable to Act
no public official who is under prosecution for any act of graft or as President.
corruption, or is under administrative investigation, shall be allowed
to voluntarily resign or retire."92 During the period of amendments, We shall now tackle the contention of the petitioner that he is merely
the following provision was inserted as section 15: temporarily unable to perform the powers and duties of the
presidency, and hence is a President on leave. As aforestated, the
"Sec. 15. Termination of office – No public official shall be inability claim is contained in the January 20, 2001 letter of petitioner
allowed to resign or retire pending an investigation, criminal sent on the same day to Senate President Pimentel and Speaker
or administrative, or pending a prosecution against him, for Fuentebella.
any offense under the Act or under the provisions of the
Revised Penal Code on bribery. Petitioner postulates that respondent Arroyo as Vice President has
no power to adjudge the inability of the petitioner to discharge the
The separation or cessation of a public official form office powers and duties of the presidency. His significant submittal is that
shall not be a bar to his prosecution under this Act for an "Congress has the ultimate authority under the Constitution to
offense committed during his incumbency."93 determine whether the President is incapable of performing his
functions in the manner provided for in section 11 of article
The bill was vetoed by then President Carlos P. Garcia who VII."95 This contention is the centerpiece of petitioner's stance that
questioned the legality of the second paragraph of the provision and he is a President on leave and respondent Arroyo is only an Acting
insisted that the President's immunity should extend after his tenure. President.

Senate Bill No. 571, which was substantially similar Senate Bill No. An examination of section 11, Article VII is in order. It provides:
293, was thereafter passed. Section 15 above became section 13
under the new bill, but the deliberations on this particular provision "SEC. 11. Whenever the President transmits to the
mainly focused on the immunity of the President, which was one of President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
the reasons for the veto of the original bill. There was hardly any Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to
debate on the prohibition against the resignation or retirement of a discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he
public official with pending criminal and administrative cases against transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such
him. Be that as it may, the intent of the law ought to be obvious. It is powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-
to prevent the act of resignation or retirement from being used by a President as Acting President.
public official as a protective shield to stop the investigation of a
pending criminal or administrative case against him and to prevent Whenever a majority of all the Members of the Cabinet
his prosecution under the Anti-Graft Law or prosecution for bribery transmit to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker
under the Revised Penal Code. To be sure, no person can be of the House of Representatives their written declaration
compelled to render service for that would be a violation of his that the President is unable to discharge the powers and
constitutional right.94 A public official has the right not to serve if he duties of his office, the Vice-President shall immediately
really wants to retire or resign. Nevertheless, if at the time he resigns assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting
or retires, a public official is facing administrative or criminal President.
investigation or prosecution, such resignation or retirement will not
cause the dismissal of the criminal or administrative proceedings
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President
against him. He cannot use his resignation or retirement to avoid
of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of
prosecution.
Representatives his written declaration that no inability
exists, he shall reassume the powers and duties of his
There is another reason why petitioner's contention should be office. Meanwhile, should a majority of all the Members of
rejected. In the cases at bar, the records show that when petitioner the Cabinet transmit within five days to the President of the
resigned on January 20, 2001, the cases filed against him before the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of
Ombudsman were OMB Case Nos. 0-00-1629, 0-00-1755, 0-00- Representatives their written declaration that the President
1756, 0-00-1757 and 0-00-1758. While these cases have been filed, is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,
the respondent Ombudsman refrained from conducting the the Congress shall decide the issue. For that purpose, the
preliminary investigation of the petitioner for the reason that as the Congress shall convene, if it is not in session, within forty-
sitting President then, petitioner was immune from suit. Technically, eight hours, in accordance with its rules and without need
the said cases cannot be considered as pending for the Ombudsman of call.
lacked jurisdiction to act on them. Section 12 of RA No. 3019 cannot
therefore be invoked by the petitioner for it contemplates of cases
If the Congress, within ten days after receipt of the last
whose investigation or prosecution do not suffer from any
written declaration, or, if not in session, within twelve days
insuperable legal obstacle like the immunity from suit of a sitting
after it is required to assemble, determines by a two-thirds
President.
vote of both Houses, voting separately, that the President
is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,
the Vice-President shall act as President; otherwise, the
President shall continue exercising the powers and duties Resolved by the House of Representatives, To express its
of his office." support to the assumption into office by Vice President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of
That is the law. Now, the operative facts: the Philippines, to extend its congratulations and to
express its support for her administration as a partner in
the attainment of the Nation's goals under the Constitution.
1. Petitioner, on January 20, 2001, sent the above
letter claiming inability to the Senate President
and Speaker of the House; Adopted,
2. Unaware of the letter, respondent Arroyo took
her oath of office as President on January 20, (Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
2001 at about 12:30 p.m.; Speaker
3. Despite receipt of the letter, the House of
Representatives passed on January 24, 2001 This Resolution was adopted by the House of
House Resolution No. 175;96 Representatives on January 24, 2001.

On the same date, the House of the Representatives passed House (Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Resolution No. 17697 which states: Secretary General"

"RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE SUPPORT OF THE On February 7, 2001, the House of the Representatives
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO THE ASSUMPTION passed House Resolution No. 17898 which states:
INTO OFFICE BY VICE PRESIDENT GLORIA
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO AS PRESIDENT OF THE
"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, EXTENDING ITS
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO'S NOMINATION OF SENATOR
CONGRATULATIONS AND EXPRESSING ITS SUPPORT
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT OF
FOR HER ADMINISTRATION AS A PARTNER IN THE
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
ATTAINMENT OF THE NATION'S GOALS UNDER THE
CONSTITUTION
WHEREAS, there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice
President due to the assumption to the Presidency of Vice
WHEREAS, as a consequence of the people's loss of
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo;
confidence on the ability of former President Joseph
Ejercito Estrada to effectively govern, the Armed Forces of
the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and majority WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9, Article VII of the
of his cabinet had withdrawn support from him; Constitution, the President in the event of such vacancy
shall nominate a Vice President from among the members
of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall
WHEREAS, upon authority of an en banc resolution of the
assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all
Supreme Court, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
members of both Houses voting separately;
was sworn in as President of the Philippines on 20 January
2001 before Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.;
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo has nominated Senate Minority Leader Teofisto T.
WHEREAS, immediately thereafter, members of the
Guingona Jr., to the position of Vice President of the
international community had extended their recognition to
Republic of the Philippines;
Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of
the Republic of the Philippines;
WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona Jr., is a public
servant endowed with integrity, competence and courage;
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-
who has served the Filipino people with dedicated
Arroyo has espoused a policy of national healing and
responsibility and patriotism;
reconciliation with justice for the purpose of national unity
and development;
WHEREAS, Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses
sterling qualities of true statesmanship, having served the
WHEREAS, it is axiomatic that the obligations of the
government in various capacities, among others, as
government cannot be achieved if it is divided, thus by
Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the
reason of the constitutional duty of the House of
Commission on Audit, Executive Secretary, Secretary of
Representatives as an institution and that of the individual
Justice, Senator of the Philippines – qualities which merit
members thereof of fealty to the supreme will of the people,
his nomination to the position of Vice President of the
the House of Representatives must ensure to the people a
Republic: Now, therefore, be it
stable, continuing government and therefore must remove
all obstacles to the attainment thereof;
Resolved as it is hereby resolved by the House of
Representatives, That the House of Representatives
WHEREAS, it is a concomitant duty of the House of
confirms the nomination of Senator Teofisto T. Guingona,
Representatives to exert all efforts to unify the nation, to
Jr. as the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.
eliminate fractious tension, to heal social and political
wounds, and to be an instrument of national reconciliation
and solidarity as it is a direct representative of the various Adopted,
segments of the whole nation;
(Sgd.) FELICIANO BELMONTE JR.
WHEREAS, without surrending its independence, it is vital Speaker
for the attainment of all the foregoing, for the House of
Representatives to extend its support and collaboration to This Resolution was adopted by the House of
the administration of Her Excellency, President Gloria Representatives on February 7, 2001.
Macapagal-Arroyo, and to be a constructive partner in
nation-building, the national interest demanding no less: (Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO
Now, therefore, be it Secretary General"
(4) Also, despite receipt of petitioner's letter claiming (Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO
inability, some twelve (12) members of the Senate signed Secretary of the Senate"
the following:
On the same date, February 7, the Senate likewise
"RESOLUTION passed Senate Resolution No. 83101 which states:

WHEREAS, the recent transition in government offers the "RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THAT THE
nation an opportunity for meaningful change and challenge; IMPEACHMENT COURT IS FUNCTUS OFFICIO

WHEREAS, to attain desired changes and overcome Resolved, as it is hereby resolved. That the Senate
awesome challenges the nation needs unity of purpose recognize that the Impeachment Court is functus officioand
and resolve cohesive resolute (sic) will; has been terminated.

WHEREAS, the Senate of the Philippines has been the Resolved, further, That the Journals of the Impeachment
forum for vital legislative measures in unity despite Court on Monday, January 15, Tuesday, January 16 and
diversities in perspectives; Wednesday, January 17, 2001 be considered approved.

WHEREFORE, we recognize and express support to the Resolved, further, That the records of the Impeachment
new government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Court including the "second envelope" be transferred to the
and resolve to discharge and overcome the nation's Archives of the Senate for proper safekeeping and
challenges." 99 preservation in accordance with the Rules of the Senate.
Disposition and retrieval thereof shall be made only upon
On February 7, the Senate also passed Senate written approval of the Senate president.
Resolution No. 82100 which states:
Resolved, finally. That all parties concerned be furnished
"RESOLUTION CONFIRMING PRESIDENT GLORIA copies of this Resolution.
MACAPAGAL ARROYO'S NOMINATION OF SEM.
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR. AS VICE PRESIDENT OF Adopted,
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR.
WHEREAS, there is vacancy in the Office of the Vice President of the Senate
President due to the assumption to the Presidency of Vice
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7,
2001.
WHEREAS, pursuant to Section 9 Article VII of the
Constitution, the President in the event of such vacancy (Sgd.) LUTGARDO B. BARBO
shall nominate a Vice President from among the members Secretary of the Senate"
of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall
assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all
(5) On February 8, the Senate also passed Resolution No.
members of both Houses voting separately;
84 "certifying to the existence of vacancy in the Senate and calling on
the COMELEC to fill up such vacancy through election to be held
WHEREAS, Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal- simultaneously with the regular election on May 14, 2001 and the
Arroyo has nominated Senate Minority Leader Teofisto T. Senatorial candidate garnering the thirteenth (13th) highest number of
Guingona, Jr. to the position of Vice President of the votes shall serve only for the unexpired term of Senator Teofisto T.
Republic of the Philippines; Guingona, Jr.'

WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. is a public (6) Both houses of Congress started sending bills to be signed
servant endowed with integrity, competence and courage; into law by respondent Arroyo as President.
who has served the Filipino people with dedicated
responsibility and patriotism;
(7) Despite the lapse of time and still without any functioning Cabinet,
without any recognition from any sector of government, and without
WHEREAS, Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. possesses any support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
sterling qualities of true statemanship, having served the Philippine National Police, the petitioner continues to claim that his
government in various capacities, among others, as inability to govern is only momentary.
Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the
Commission on Audit, Executive Secretary, Secretary of
What leaps to the eye from these irrefutable facts is that both
Justice, Senator of the land - which qualities merit his
houses of Congress have recognized respondent Arroyo as the
nomination to the position of Vice President of the
President. Implicitly clear in that recognition is the premise that
Republic: Now, therefore, be it
the inability of petitioner Estrada. Is no longer temporary.
Congress has clearly rejected petitioner's claim of inability.
Resolved, as it is hereby resolved, That the Senate confirm
the nomination of Sen. Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. as Vice
The question is whether this Court has jurisdiction to review the
President of the Republic of the Philippines.
claim of temporary inability of petitioner Estrada and
thereafter revise the decision of both Houses of
Adopted, Congress recognizing respondent Arroyo as president of the
Philippines. Following Tañada v. Cuenco,102 we hold that this Court
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL JR. cannot exercise its judicial power or this is an issue "in regard to
President of the Senate which full discretionary authority has been delegated to the
Legislative xxx branch of the government." Or to use the language
This Resolution was adopted by the Senate on February 7, in Baker vs. Carr,103 there is a "textually demonstrable or a lack of
2001. judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it."
Clearly, the Court cannot pass upon petitioner's claim of inability to of the Governor-General, that the latter is liable when he
discharge the power and duties of the presidency. The question is acts in a case so plainly outside of his power and authority
political in nature and addressed solely to Congress by that he can not be said to have exercised discretion in
constitutional fiat. It is a political issue, which cannot be decided by determining whether or not he had the right to act. What is
this Court without transgressing the principle of separation of powers. held here is that he will be protected from personal liability
for damages not only when he acts within his authority, but
In fine, even if the petitioner can prove that he did not resign, also when he is without authority, provided he actually
still, he cannot successfully claim that he is a President on used discretion and judgement, that is, the judicial faculty,
leave on the ground that he is merely unable to govern in determining whether he had authority to act or not. In
temporarily. That claim has been laid to rest by Congress and other words, in determining the question of his authority. If
the decision that respondent Arroyo is the de jure, president he decide wrongly, he is still protected provided the
made by a co-equal branch of government cannot be reviewed question of his authority was one over which two men,
by this Court. reasonably qualified for that position, might honestly differ;
but he s not protected if the lack of authority to act is so
plain that two such men could not honestly differ over its
IV
determination. In such case, be acts, not as Governor-
General but as a private individual, and as such must
Whether or not the petitioner enjoys immunity from suit. answer for the consequences of his act."

Assuming he enjoys immunity, the extent of the immunity Mr. Justice Johnson underscored the consequences if the Chief
Executive was not granted immunity from suit, viz"xxx. Action upon
Petitioner Estrada makes two submissions: first, the cases filed important matters of state delayed; the time and substance of the
against him before the respondent Ombudsman should be prohibited chief executive spent in wrangling litigation; disrespect engendered
because he has not been convicted in the impeachment proceedings for the person of one of the highest officials of the state and for the
against him; and second, he enjoys immunity from all kinds of suit, office he occupies; a tendency to unrest and disorder resulting in a
whether criminal or civil. way, in distrust as to the integrity of government itself."105

Before resolving petitioner's contentions, a revisit of our legal history Our 1935 Constitution took effect but it did not contain any specific
executive immunity will be most enlightening. The doctrine of provision on executive immunity. Then came the tumult of the martial
executive immunity in this jurisdiction emerged as a case law. In law years under the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and the
the 1910 case of Forbes, etc. vs. Chuoco Tiaco and 1973 Constitution was born. In 1981, it was amended and one of the
Crosfield,104 the respondent Tiaco, a Chinese citizen, sued petitioner amendments involved executive immunity. Section 17, Article VII
W. Cameron Forbes, Governor-General of the Philippine Islands. stated:
J.E. Harding and C.R. Trowbridge, Chief of Police and Chief of the
Secret Service of the City of Manila, respectively, for damages for "The President shall be immune from suit during his tenure.
allegedly conspiring to deport him to China. In granting a writ of Thereafter, no suit whatsoever shall lie for official acts done
prohibition, this Court, speaking thru Mr. Justice Johnson, held: by him or by others pursuant to his specific orders during
his tenure.
" The principle of nonliability, as herein enunciated, does
not mean that the judiciary has no authority to touch the The immunities herein provided shall apply to the
acts of the Governor-General; that he may, under cover of incumbent President referred to in Article XVII of this
his office, do what he will, unimpeded and unrestrained. Constitution.
Such a construction would mean that tyranny, under the
guise of the execution of the law, could walk defiantly
In his second Vicente G. Sinco professional Chair lecture entitled,
abroad, destroying rights of person and of property, wholly
"Presidential Immunity and All The King's Men: The Law of Privilege
free from interference of courts or legislatures. This does
As a Defense To Actions For Damages,"106 petitioner's learned
not mean, either that a person injured by the executive
counsel, former Dean of the UP College of Law, Atty. Pacificao
authority by an act unjustifiable under the law has n
Agabin, brightened the modifications effected by this constitutional
remedy, but must submit in silence. On the contrary, it
amendment on the existing law on executive privilege. To quote his
means, simply, that the governors-general, like the judges
disquisition:
if the courts and the members of the Legislature, may not
be personally mulcted in civil damages for the
consequences of an act executed in the performance of his "In the Philippines, though, we sought to do the Americans
official duties. The judiciary has full power to, and will, one better by enlarging and fortifying the absolute immunity
when the mater is properly presented to it and the occasion concept. First, we extended it to shield the President not
justly warrants it, declare an act of the Governor-General only form civil claims but also from criminal cases and
illegal and void and place as nearly as possible in status other claims. Second, we enlarged its scope so that it
quo any person who has been deprived his liberty or his would cover even acts of the President outside the scope
property by such act. This remedy is assured to every of official duties. And third, we broadened its coverage so
person, however humble or of whatever country, when his as to include not only the President but also other persons,
personal or property rights have been invaded, even by the be they government officials or private individuals, who
highest authority of the state. The thing which the judiciary acted upon orders of the President. It can be said that at
can not do is mulct the Governor-General personally in that point most of us were suffering from AIDS (or absolute
damages which result from the performance of his official immunity defense syndrome)."
duty, any more than it can a member of the Philippine
Commission of the Philippine Assembly. Public policy The Opposition in the then Batasan Pambansa sought the repeal of
forbids it. this Marcosian concept of executive immunity in the 1973
Constitution. The move was led by them Member of Parliament, now
Neither does this principle of nonliability mean that the Secretary of Finance, Alberto Romulo, who argued that the after
chief executive may not be personally sued at all in relation incumbency immunity granted to President Marcos violated the
to acts which he claims to perform as such official. On the principle that a public office is a public trust. He denounced the
contrary, it clearly appears from the discussion heretofore immunity as a return to the anachronism "the king can do no
had, particularly that portion which touched the liability of wrong."107 The effort failed.
judges and drew an analogy between such liability and that
The 1973 Constitution ceased to exist when President Marcos was This is in accord with our ruling In Re: Saturnino Bermudez111 that
ousted from office by the People Power revolution in 1986. When the 'incumbent Presidents are immune from suit or from being brought to
1987 Constitution was crafted, its framers did not reenact the court during the period of their incumbency and tenure" but not
executive immunity provision of the 1973 Constitution. The following beyond. Considering the peculiar circumstance that the impeachment
explanation was given by delegate J. Bernas vis:108 process against the petitioner has been aborted and thereafter he
lost the presidency, petitioner Estrada cannot demand as a condition
"Mr. Suarez. Thank you. sine qua non to his criminal prosecution before the Ombudsman that
he be convicted in the impeachment proceedings. His reliance on the
case of Lecaroz vs. Sandiganbayan112 and related cases113 are
The last question is with reference to the Committee's
inapropos for they have a different factual milieu.
omitting in the draft proposal the immunity provision for the
President. I agree with Commissioner Nolledo that the
Committee did very well in striking out second sentence, at We now come to the scope of immunity that can be claimed by
the very least, of the original provision on immunity from petitioner as a non-sitting President. The cases filed against
suit under the 1973 Constitution. But would the Committee petitioner Estrada are criminal in character. They involve plunder,
members not agree to a restoration of at least the first bribery and graft and corruption. By no stretch of the imagination can
sentence that the President shall be immune from suit these crimes, especially plunder which carries the death penalty, be
during his tenure, considering that if we do not provide him covered by the alleged mantle of immunity of a non-sitting president.
that kind of an immunity, he might be spending all his time Petitioner cannot cite any decision of this Court licensing the
facing litigation's, as the President-in-exile in Hawaii is now President to commit criminal acts and wrapping him with post-tenure
facing litigation's almost daily? immunity from liability. It will be anomalous to hold that immunity is
an inoculation from liability for unlawful acts and conditions. The rule
is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and
Fr. Bernas. The reason for the omission is that we consider
the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the
it understood in present jurisprudence that during his
same footing as any trespasser.114
tenure he is immune from suit.

Indeed, critical reading of current literature on executive immunity will


Mr. Suarez. So there is no need to express it here.
reveal a judicial disinclination to expand the privilege especially when
it impedes the search for truth or impairs the vindication of a right. In
Fr. Bernas. There is no need. It was that way before. The the 1974 case of US v. Nixon,115 US President Richard Nixon, a
only innovation made by the 1973 Constitution was to sitting President, was subpoenaed to produce certain recordings and
make that explicit and to add other things. documents relating to his conversations with aids and advisers.
Seven advisers of President Nixon's associates were facing charges
Mr. Suarez. On that understanding, I will not press for any of conspiracy to obstruct Justice and other offenses, which were
more query, Madam President. committed in a burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters in
Washington's Watergate Hotel during the 972 presidential campaign.
I think the Commissioner for the clarifications." President Nixon himself was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
President Nixon moved to quash the subpoena on the ground,
We shall now rule on the contentions of petitioner in the light of this among others, that the President was not subject to judicial process
history. We reject his argument that he cannot be prosecuted for the and that he should first be impeached and removed from office
reason that he must first be convicted in the impeachment before he could be made amenable to judicial proceedings. The
proceedings. The impeachment trial of petitioner Estrada was claim was rejected by the US Supreme Court. It concluded that
aborted by the walkout of the prosecutors and by the events that led "when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials
to his loss of the presidency. Indeed, on February 7, 2001, the sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized
Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 83 "Recognizing that the interest in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental
Impeachment Court is Functus Officio."109 Since, the Impeachment demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal
Court is now functus officio, it is untenable for petitioner to demand justice." In the 1982 case of Nixon v. Fitzgerald,116 the US Supreme
that he should first be impeached and then convicted before he can Court further held that the immunity of the president from civil
be prosecuted. The plea if granted, would put a perpetual bar against damages covers only "official acts." Recently, the US Supreme Court
his prosecution. Such a submission has nothing to commend itself for had the occasion to reiterate this doctrine in the case of Clinton v.
it will place him in a better situation than a non-sitting President who Jones117 where it held that the US President's immunity from suits for
has not been subjected to impeachment proceedings and yet can be money damages arising out of their official acts is inapplicable to
the object of a criminal prosecution. To be sure, the debates in the unofficial conduct.
Constitutional Commission make it clear that when impeachment
proceedings have become moot due to the resignation of the There are more reasons not to be sympathetic to appeals to stretch
President, the proper criminal and civil cases may already be filed the scope of executive immunity in our jurisdiction. One of the great
against him, viz:110 themes of the 1987 Constitution is that a public office is a public
trust.118 It declared as a state policy that "the State shall maintain
"xxx honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and
effective measures against graft and corruptio."119 it ordained that
"public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to
Mr. Aquino. On another point, if an impeachment
the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty,
proceeding has been filed against the President, for
and efficiency act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest
example, and the President resigns before judgement of
lives."120 It set the rule that 'the right of the State to recover properties
conviction has been rendered by the impeachment court or
unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees, from them or
by the body, how does it affect the impeachment
from their nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by
proceeding? Will it be necessarily dropped?
prescription, latches or estoppel."121 It maintained the
Sandiganbayan as an anti-graft court.122 It created the office of the
Mr. Romulo. If we decide the purpose of impeachment to Ombudsman and endowed it with enormous powers, among which is
remove one from office, then his resignation would render to "investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or
the case moot and academic. However, as the provision omission of any public official, employee, office or agency, when
says, the criminal and civil aspects of it may continue in the such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust improper or
ordinary courts." inefficient."123 The Office of the Ombudsman was also given fiscal
autonomy.124 These constitutional policies will be devalued if we
sustain petitioner's claim that a non-sitting president enjoys immunity prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation and proof that
from suit for criminal acts committed during his incumbency. the judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that
they might be, by the barrage of publicity. In the case at a
V bar, the records do not show that the trial judge developed
actual bias against appellants as a consequence of the
extensive media coverage of the pre-trial and trial of his
Whether or not the prosecution of petitioner
case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not
prove that the trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a
Estrada should be enjoined due to prejudicial publicity result of prejudicial publicity, which is incapable of change
even by evidence presented during the trial. Appellant has
Petitioner also contends that the respondent Ombudsman should be the burden to prove this actual bias and he has not
stopped from conducting the investigation of the cases filed against discharged the burden.'
him due to the barrage of prejudicial publicity on his guilt. He submits
that the respondent Ombudsman has developed bias and is all set We expounded further on this doctrine in the subsequent case of
file the criminal cases violation of his right to due process. Webb vs. Hon. Raul de Leon, etc.130 and its companion cases, viz:

There are two (2) principal legal and philosophical schools of thought "Again petitioners raise the effect of prejudicial publicity on
on how to deal with the rain of unrestrained publicity during the their right to due process while undergoing preliminary
investigation and trial of high profile cases.125 The British approach investigation. We find no procedural impediment to its early
the problem with the presumption that publicity will prejudice a jury. invocation considering the substantial risk to their liberty
Thus, English courts readily stay and stop criminal trials when the while undergoing a preliminary investigation.
right of an accused to fair trial suffers a threat.126 The American
approach is different. US courts assume a skeptical approach about
xxx
the potential effect of pervasive publicity on the right of an accused to
a fair trial. They have developed different strains of tests to resolve
this issue, i.e., substantial; probability of irreparable harm, strong The democratic settings, media coverage of trials of
likelihood, clear and present danger, etc. sensational cases cannot be avoided and oftentimes, its
excessiveness has been aggravated by kinetic
developments in the telecommunications industry. For
This is not the first time the issue of trial by publicity has been raised
sure, few cases can match the high volume and high
in this Court to stop the trials or annul convictions in high profile
velocity of publicity that attended the preliminary
criminal cases.127 In People vs. Teehankee, Jr.,128 later reiterated in
investigation of the case at bar. Our daily diet of facts and
the case of Larranaga vs. court of Appeals, et al.,129 we laid down the
fiction about the case continues unabated even today.
doctrine that:
Commentators still bombard the public with views not too
many of which are sober and sublime. Indeed, even the
"We cannot sustain appellant's claim that he was denied principal actors in the case – the NBI, the respondents,
the right to impartial trial due to prejudicial publicity. It is their lawyers and their sympathizers have participated in
true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at this media blitz. The possibility of media abuses and their
bar pervasive publicity, just like all high profile and high threat to a fair trial notwithstanding, criminal trials cannot
stake criminal trials. Then and now, we rule that the right of be completely closed to the press and public. In the
an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a free press. seminal case of Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, it
To be sure, responsible reporting enhances accused's right was
to a fair trial for, as well pointed out, a responsible press
has always been regarded as the criminal field xxx. The
xxx
press does not simply publish information about trials but
guards against the miscarriage of justice by subjecting the
police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to extensive a. The historical evidence of the evolution of the
public scrutiny and criticism. criminal trial in Anglo-American justice
demonstrates conclusively that at the time this
Nation's organic laws were adopted, criminal
Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an
trials both here and in England had long been
accused to fair trial. The mere fact that the trial of appellant
presumptively open, thus giving assurance that
was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel coverage does not
the proceedings were conducted fairly to all
by itself prove that the publicity so permeated the mind of
concerned and discouraging perjury, the
the trial judge and impaired his impartiality. For one, it is
misconduct of participants, or decisions based on
impossible to seal the minds of members of the bench from
secret bias or partiality. In addition, the significant
pre-trial and other off-court publicity of sensational criminal
community therapeutic value of public trials was
cases. The state of the art of our communication system
recognized when a shocking crime occurs a
brings news as they happen straight to our breakfast tables
community reaction of outrage and public protest
and right to our bedrooms. These news form part of our
often follows, and thereafter the open processes
everyday menu of the facts and fictions of life. For another,
of justice serve an important prophylactic
our idea of a fair and impartial judge is not that of a hermit
purpose, providing an outlet for community
who is out of touch with the world. We have not installed
concern, hostility and emotion. To work
the jury system whose members are overly protected from
effectively, it is important that society's criminal
publicity lest they lose there impartially. xxx xxx xxx. Our
process satisfy the appearance of justice,' Offutt
judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-
v. United States, 348 US 11, 14, 99 L ED 11, 75
court evidence and on-camera performances of parties to
S Ct 11, which can best be provided by allowing
litigation. Their mere exposure to publications and publicity
people to observe such process. From this
stunts does not per se fatally infect their impartiality.
unbroken, uncontradicted history, supported by
reasons as valid today as in centuries past, it
At best, appellant can only conjure possibility of prejudice must be concluded that a presumption of
on the part of the trial judge due to the barrage of publicity openness inheres in the very nature of a criminal
that characterized the investigation and trial of the case. In trial under this Nation's system of justice, Cf.,
Martelino, et al. v. Alejandro, et al., we rejected this e,g., Levine v. United States, 362 US 610, 4 L Ed
standard of possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of 2d 989, 80 S Ct 1038.
actual prejudice as we ruled that to warrant a finding of
b. The freedoms of speech. Press and assembly, render a bias-free decision. Well to note, the cases against the
expressly guaranteed by the First Amendment, petitioner are still undergoing preliminary investigation by a special
share a common core purpose of assuring panel of prosecutors in the office of the respondent Ombudsman. No
freedom of communication on matters relating to allegation whatsoever has been made by the petitioner that the
the functioning of government. In guaranteeing minds of the members of this special panel have already been
freedom such as those of speech and press, the infected by bias because of the pervasive prejudicial publicity against
First Amendment can be read as protecting the him. Indeed, the special panel has yet to come out with its findings
right of everyone to attend trials so as give and the Court cannot second guess whether its recommendation will
meaning to those explicit guarantees; the First be unfavorable to the petitioner.1âwphi1.nêt
Amendment right to receive information and
ideas means, in the context of trials, that the The records show that petitioner has instead charged respondent
guarantees of speech and press, standing alone, Ombudsman himself with bias. To quote petitioner's submission, the
prohibit government from summarily closing respondent Ombudsman "has been influenced by the barrage of
courtroom doors which had long been open to slanted news reports, and he has buckled to the threats and
the public at the time the First Amendment was pressures directed at him by the mobs."132 News reports have also
adopted. Moreover, the right of assembly is also been quoted to establish that the respondent Ombudsman has
relevant, having been regarded not only as an already prejudged the cases of the petitioner133 and it is postulated
independent right but also as a catalyst to that the prosecutors investigating the petitioner will be influenced by
augment the free exercise of the other First this bias of their superior.
Amendment rights with which the draftsmen
deliberately linked it. A trial courtroom is a public
Again, we hold that the evidence proffered by the petitioner
place where the people generally and
is insubstantial. The accuracy of the news reports referred to by the
representatives of the media have a right to be
petitioner cannot be the subject of judicial notice by this Court
present, and where their presence historically
especially in light of the denials of the respondent Ombudsman as to
has been thought to enhance the integrity and
his alleged prejudice and the presumption of good faith and regularity
quality of what takes place.
in the performance of official duty to which he is entitled. Nor can we
c. Even though the Constitution contains no
adopt the theory of derivative prejudice of petitioner, i.e., that
provision which be its terms guarantees to the
the prejudice of respondent Ombudsman flows to his
public the right to attend criminal trials, various
subordinates. In truth, our Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
fundamental rights, not expressly guaranteed,
give investigation prosecutors the independence to make their own
have been recognized as indispensable to the
findings and recommendations albeit they are reviewable by their
enjoyment of enumerated rights. The right to
superiors.134 They can be reversed but they can not be compelled
attend criminal trial is implicit in the guarantees of
cases which they believe deserve dismissal. In other words,
the First Amendment: without the freedom to
investigating prosecutors should not be treated like unthinking slot
attend such trials, which people have exercised
machines. Moreover, if the respondent Ombudsman resolves to file
for centuries, important aspects of freedom of
the cases against the petitioner and the latter believes that the
speech and of the press be eviscerated.
findings of probable cause against him is the result of bias, he still
has the remedy of assailing it before the proper court.
Be that as it may, we recognize that pervasive and
prejudicial publicity under certain circumstances can
VI.
deprive an accused of his due process right to fair trial.
Thus, in Martelino, et al. vs. Alejandro, et al., we held that
to warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity there must Epilogue
be allegation and proof that the judges have been unduly
influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of A word of caution to the "hooting throng." The cases against the
publicity. In the case at bar, we find nothing in the records petitioner will now acquire a different dimension and then move to a
that will prove that the tone and content of the publicity that new stage - - - the Office of the Ombudsman. Predictably, the call
attended the investigation of petitioners fatally infected the from the majority for instant justice will hit a higher decibel while the
fairness and impartiality of the DOJ Panel. Petitioners gnashing of teeth of the minority will be more threatening. It is the
cannot just rely on the subliminal effects of publicity on the sacred duty of the respondent Ombudsman to balance the right of
sense of fairness of the DOJ Panel, for these are basically the State to prosecute the guilty and the right of an accused to a fair
unbeknown and beyond knowing. To be sure, the DOJ investigation and trial which has been categorized as the "most
Panel is composed of an Assistant Chief State Prosecutor fundamental of all freedoms."135To be sure, the duty of a prosecutor
and Senior State Prosecutors. Their long experience in is more to do justice and less to prosecute. His is the obligation to
criminal investigation is a factor to consider in determining insure that the preliminary investigation of the petitioner shall have a
whether they can easily be blinded by the klieg lights of circus-free atmosphere. He has to provide the restraint against what
publicity. Indeed, their 26-page Resolution carries no Lord Bryce calls "the impatient vehemence of the majority." Rights in
indubitable indicia of bias for it does not appear that they a democracy are not decided by the mob whose judgment is dictated
considered any extra-record evidence except evidence by rage and not by reason. Nor are rights necessarily resolved by the
properly adduced by the parties. The length of time the power of number for in a democracy, the dogmatism of the majority is
investigation was conducted despite its summary nature not and should never be the definition of the rule of law. If democracy
and the generosity with which they accommodated the has proved to be the best form of government, it is because it has
discovery motions of petitioners speak well of their respected the right of the minority to convince the majority that it is
fairness. At no instance, we note, did petitioners seek the wrong. Tolerance of multiformity of thoughts, however offensive they
disqualification of any member of the DOJ Panel on the may be, is the key to man's progress from the cave to civilization. Let
ground of bias resulting from their bombardment of us not throw away that key just to pander to some people's prejudice.
prejudicial publicity." (emphasis supplied)
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions of Joseph Ejercito Estrada
Applying the above ruling, we hold that there is not enough challenging the respondent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the de
evidence to warrant this Court to enjoin the preliminary jure 14th President of the Republic are DISMISSED.
investigation of the petitioner by the respondent Ombudsman.
Petitioner needs to offer more than hostile headlines to discharge his SO ORDERED.
burden of proof.131 He needs to show more weighty social science
evidence to successfully prove the impaired capacity of a judge to XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
FIRST DIVISION Court) and docketed as Civil Case No. 26804. Our
representation shall also include the areas taken over by the
G.R. No. 152072 January 31, 2006 Ministry of Public Works and Highways which now formed
part of the Marcos Highway at Antipolo, Rizal.
ROMEO G. ROXAS and SANTIAGO N. PASTOR, Petitioners,
vs. The areas affected are the following:
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI,
PACITA JAVIER, ELIZABETH R. GONZALES, JOSEFINA R. xxxx
DAZA, ELIAS REYES, NATIVIDAD REYES, TERESITA REYES,
JOSE REYES and ANTONIO REYES, Respondents. We shall endeavor to secure the just compensation with the
National Housing Authority and other governmental agencies
x----------------------------------x at a price of ELEVEN PESOS (P11.00) or more per square
meter. Any lower amount shall not entitle us to any attorney’s
G.R. No. 152104 January 31, 2006 fees. At such price of P11.00 per square meter or more our
contingent fee[s] is THIRTY PERCENT (30%) of the just
ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI, compensation.
PACITA JAVIER, ELIZABETH R. GONZALES, JOSEFINA R.
DAZA, ELIAS REYES, NATIVIDAD REYES, TERESITA REYES, The other terms and conditions of our proposal are:
JOSE REYES and ANTONIO REYES, Petitioners,
vs. xxxx
THE NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY, JOSE B. H. PEDROSA,
ROMEO G. ROXAS and SANTIAGO N. PASTOR, Respondents. 5. You are willing to accept NHA 5-year bonds as part
payment up to 75% of the total compensation. In the event of
DECISION your desire to discount the bonds, we shall assist to have
them discounted at 75% of its face value.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
6. Our lawyer’s fees shall be in the proportion of the
Before Us are two petitions for review on certiorari1 which were cash/bonds ratio of the just compensation. Likewise our fees
consolidated per Resolution2 of this Court dated 27 November 2002. are subject to 10% withholding tax.
The petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and
Santiago N. Pastor, seek the reversal and annulment of the xxxx
Decision3 and Resolution4 of the Court of Appeals dated 25 June
2001 and 06 February 2002, respectively. The petitioners in G.R. No. Should the above proposal be acceptable to your
152104, the Zuzuarreguis, on the other hand, pray that the said goodselves, kindly signify your formal acceptance as (sic)
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals be modified. Said the space hereunder provided.
Decision and Resolution reversed and set aside the decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 98, Quezon City, dated 03
January 1994. Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) (Sgd.)
THE ANTECEDENTS SANTIAGO N. PASTOR ROMEO G. ROXAS
Lawyer Lawyer
The instant cases had their beginnings in 1977 when the National CONFORME:
Housing Authority (NHA) filed expropriation proceedings against the (Sgd.)
(Sgd.)
Zuzuarreguis, petitioners in G.R. No. 152104, for parcels of land ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI,
PACITA JAVIER
belonging to the latter situated in Antipolo, Rizal, with a total land JR.
area of 1,790,570.36 square meters, more or less. This case was In my behalf and
lodged before the RTC, Branch 141, Municipality of
as heir to the late Pilar Y. vda. as heir to the late Jose De
Makati,5 docketed therein as Civil Case No. 26804 entitled, "National
De Zuzuarregui Zuzuarregui7
Housing Authority v. Pilar Ibañez Vda. De Zuzuarregui, et al."

On 25 May 1983, said case was ordered archived6 by Branch 141. A Motion to Set Case for Hearing,8 dated 14 February 1984, was filed
by Attys. Roxas and Pastor in Civil Case No. 26804, praying that the
case be revived and be set for hearing by the court at the earliest
About a month before the aforecited case was ordered archived, the
date available in its calendar.
Zuzuarreguis engaged the legal services of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas
and Santiago N. Pastor, to represent them in Civil Case No. 26804.
This was sealed by a Letter-Agreement dated 22 April 1983, which is The appropriate proceedings thereafter ensued. On 29 October
partly reproduced hereunder: 1984, a Partial Decision was rendered by Branch 141 in Civil Case
No. 26804 fixing the just compensation to be paid to the
Zuzuarreguis at P30.00 per square meter.
April 22, 1983
The NHA filed a Motion for Reconsideration9 dated 23 November
Mr. Antonio de Zuzuarregui, Jr. 1984 praying that the Partial Decision be reconsidered and set aside,
Mrs. Pacita Javier (as heir to the late Jose de Zuzuarregui) and a new one rendered lowering the amount of just compensation in
Mr. Antonio de Zuzuarregui ( as heir to the late Pilar Y. vda. accordance with applicable laws. Pending resolution thereof, a Joint
De Zuzuarregui) Special Power of Attorney was executed by Antonio De Zuzuarregui,
Jr., Enrique De Zuzuarregui and Pacita Javier, in favor of Attys.
Dear Sir and Madam: Roxas and Pastor, viz:

This is to confirm in writing our verbal negotiations for us to


represent you in the expropriation proceedings filed by the
National Housing Authority against your goodselves before
the Court of First Instance of Rizal (now the Regional Trial
JOINT SPECIAL POWER OF (Sgd.)
ATTORNEY ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI,
JR.1avvph!l.ne+
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE
PRESENTS: (Sgd.)
ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI
That We, ANTONIO DE
ZUZUARREGUI, JR., ENRIQUE DE (Sgd.)
ZUZUARREGUI and PACITA JAVIER, PACITA JAVIER10
all of legal age, …, do hereby appoint,
name and constitute ATTYS. ROMEO
G. ROXAS and SANTIAGO PASTOR,
to be our true and lawful attorneys to act
in our names and on our behalves to do On 22 November 1985, a Special Power of Attorney was executed
and execute all or any of the following by Beatriz Zuzuarregui vda. De Reyes in favor of Attys. Romeo G.
acts and deeds subject to our approval: Roxas, Santiago Pastor and Basilio H. Toquero, quoted as follows:

xxxx

(2) To represent us in the SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY


negotiations for a compromise
with the National Housing KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE
Authority for our properties PRESENTS:
subject of the above case;
That I, BEATRIZ ZUZUARREGUI VDA.
(3) To negotiate for and in our DE REYES, Filipino, of legal age,
behalves for the settlement of widow, and a resident of E. Rodriguez
the just compensation of our Ave., Quezon City, Philippines do
properties payable in cash or hereby appoint, name and constitute
in bonds; ATTYS. ROMEO G. ROXAS,
SANTIAGO PASTOR and BASILIO H.
(4) To sign and prepare all TOQUERO, to be my true and lawful
papers relative to the attorneys … :
preparation of a Compromise
Agreement or any papers and 1. To represent me in the
communications which shall negotiation for a Compromise
eventually bear our with the National Housing
signatures; and Authority for my properties
subject to my approval in
(5) That this Special Power of CIVIL CASE No. 26804,
Attorney is enforce (sic) as entitled "National Housing
long as ATTYS. ROMEO G. Authority vs. Pilar Ibañez de
ROXAS AND SANTIAGO Zuzuarregui, et al., before the
PASTOR are our lawyers in Regional Trial Court, Makati,
Civil Case No. 26804 before Branch CXLI;
the Regional Trial Court,
Makati, Branch CXLI. 2. To negotiate for and in my
behalf for the settlement of the
HEREBY GIVING AND GRANTING just compensation of my
unto our said attorneys full power and properties payable in cash or
authority whatsoever requisite or in bond, subject to my
necessary or proper to be done in or approval;
about the premises, as fully to all intents
and purposes as we might or could 3. To sign and prepare all
lawfully do if personally present, and papers relative to the
hereby ratifying and confirming all that preparation of a Compromise
our said attorneys shall do or cause to Agreement or any papers and
be done under and by virtue of these communications which shall
presents. eventually bear my signature;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, We have 4. To accept for and in my


hereunto set our hands this 26th day of behalf payments for my
August, 1985, in Makati, M. M., properties after the
Philippines. Compromise Agreement is
duly approved by the Court,
the actual receipts of which
(Sgd.)
ENRIQUE DE ZUZUARREGUI
payments shall be signed by
me. CONFORME:

HEREBY GIVING AND GRANTING (Sgd.)ATTY. ROMEO G. ROXAS


unto my said attorneys full power and
authority whatsoever requisite, (Sgd.)ATTY. SANTIAGO PASTOR12
necessary or proper … to be done
under and by virtue of these presents. Resolution No. 117413 dated 16 December 1985 was issued by the
NHA stating that the Zuzuarregui property would be acquired at a
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have cost of P19.50 per square meter; that the Zuzuarreguis would be
hereunto set my hand this 22nd day of paid in NHA Bonds, subject to the availability of funds; and that the
November 1985, in the City of Manila, yield on the bonds to be paid to the Zuzuarreguis shall be based on
Philippines. the Central Bank rate at the time of payment.

(Sgd.) As a result of the aforesaid NHA Resolution, a Compromise


BEATRIZ ZUZUARREGUI VDA. DE Agreement was executed between the Zuzuarreguis and the NHA in
REYES11 Civil Case No. 26804. The Compromise Agreement, stipulated
among other things, that the just compensation of the Zuzuarregui
properties would be at P19.50 per square meter payable in NHA
Bonds. In a Decision dated 20 December 1985, the RTC, Branch
141, Makati, approved the Compromise Agreement submitted by the
On 10 December 1985, a Letter-Agreement was executed by and parties.
between Antonio Zuzuarregui, Jr., Pacita Javier and Enrique De
Zuzuarregui, on the one hand, and Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and
Santiago Pastor, on the other. The said Letter-Agreement reads: On 27 December 1985, the NHA Legal Department, through Atty.
Jose B. H. Pedrosa, released to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas, in behalf of
the Zuzuarreguis, the amount of P20,000,000.00 in NHA Bearer
December 10, 1985 Bonds as "partial payment for several parcels of land with a total area
of 1,790,570.36 square meters located in Antipolo, Rizal."14 On even
Atty. Romeo G. Roxas date, Atty. Romeo G. Roxas delivered NHA Bonds to Antonio De
Atty. Santiago Pastor Zuzuarregui in the amount of P15,000,000.00.15 On 04 February
Makati Executive Center 1986, the amount of P34,500,000.00 in Bearer Bonds was again
Salcedo Village, Makati released by the NHA to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas in behalf of the
Zuzuarreguis.16 On 14 February 1986, the Zuzuarreguis issued a
Dear Atty. Roxas & Atty. Pastor: receipt17 for receiving the amount of P30,070,000.00. This receipt
included the P15,000,000.00 given to them last 27 December 1985.
This will confirm an amendment to our agreement regarding your Again on 17 February 1986, the Zuzuarreguis, through Beatriz
attorney’s fees as our lawyers and counsels for the Zuzuarregui’s Zuzuarregui vda. De Reyes, issued another receipt for the amount
properties expropriated by National Housing Authority covering ONE of P450,000.00 in NHA bonds.18 The total amount in NHA bonds
HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE (179) HECTARES, more or less, released to Atty. Romeo G. Roxas in behalf of the Zuzuarreguis
covered by TCT Nos. 138340, 85633 and 85634 and filed as Civil amounted to P54,500,000.00. Out of this amount, the records show
Case No. 26804. that the amount turned over to the Zuzuarreguis by Atty. Roxas
amounted to P30,520,000.00 in NHA bonds.
We hereby confirm and agree that we are willing to accept as final
and complete settlement for our 179 hectares expropriated by NHA a Computed at P19.50 per square meter, the 1,790,570.36 square
price of SEVENTEEN PESOS (P17.00) per square meter, or for a meters property of the Zuzuarreguis was expropriated at a total price
total of THIRTY MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS of P34,916,122.00. The total amount released by the NHA
(P30.4 Million), all payable in NHA Bonds. was P54,500,000.00. The difference of P19,583,878.00 is,
undoubtedly, the yield on the bonds.
We also agree and confirm that for and in consideration of your
services as our lawyers and counsels in the said expropriation case, On 25 August 1987, a letter19 was sent by the Zuzuarreguis’ new
we commit and bind ourselves to pay to you, your heirs or assignees- counsel, Jose F. Gonzalez, to Attys. Roxas and Pastor, demanding
in-interest, as your contingent attorney’s fees any and all amount in that the latter deliver to the Zuzuarreguis the yield corresponding to
excess of the SEVENTEEN PESOS (P17.00) per square meter bonds paid by the NHA within a period of 10 days from receipt, under
payable in NHA bonds as mentioned above. pain of administrative, civil and/or criminal action.

This Letter Agreement serves also as your authority to collect directly Attys. Roxas and Pastor answered via a letter dated 21 September
from NHA the amount pertaining to you as your contingent attorney’s 1987 explaining their side of the story. They stated therein, among
fees. other things, that the amount that they got seems huge from the
surface, but it just actually passed their hands, as it did not really go
to them.20
This Letter Agreement hereby amends and supersedes our previous
agreement regarding your attorney’s fees as our lawyers and
counsels in the above-mentioned expropriation case. On 29 September 1987, a letter21 was sent by the Zuzuarreguis
through Antonio De Zuzuarregui, Jr., to Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and
Santiago N. Pastor, informing the latter that their services as
Very truly yours,
counsels of the Zuzuarreguis (except Betty) in the expropriation
proceedings filed by the NHA, docketed as Civil Case No. 26804,
(Sgd.) ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR. was being formally terminated.
In my behalf as heir to the late Pilar I. vda. de Zuzuarregui
Apparently unsatisfied with the explanation of Attys. Roxas and
(Sgd.)PACITA JAVIER Pastor, the Zuzuarreguis filed a civil action for Sum of Money and
As heir to the late Jose De Zuzuarregui
Damages on 14 November 1989 before the RTC, Quezon City, Attys. Roxas and Pastor, petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, assign as
Branch 98, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-4013, against the NHA, errors the following:
Jose B. H. Pedrosa, Atty. Romeo G. Roxas and Atty. Santiago N.
Pastor. The Zuzuarreguis demanded that the yield on the NHA bonds I
be turned over to them.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A
After due hearing, a Decision22 in Civil Case No. Q-89-4013 was QUESTION OF LAW IN HOLDING THAT THE LETTER-
rendered on 03 January 1994, dismissing the Complaint. The AGREEMENT DATED DECEMBER 10, 1985 CANNOT BE
dispositive portion reads: ALLOWED TO STAND AS THE LAW BETWEEN THE PARTIES;
and
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing consideration[s], judgment is
hereby rendered ordering the dismissal of the complaint against all II
the defendants; and, further ordering plaintiffs, jointly and solidarily,
to:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A
QUESTION OF LAW IN HOLDING THAT DEFENDANTS-
1. Pay each of the defendants Romeo G. Roxas, Santiago APPELLANTS, HEREIN PETITIONERS, CONCEALED TO THE
Pastor and Jose B. H. Perdosa, the amount of PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES, HEREIN RESPONDENTS, THE YIELD
P200,000.00, P200,000.00 and P100,000.00, respectively, OF THE NHA BONDS31
as moral damages;
The Zuzuarreguis, petitioners in G.R. No. 152101, on the other hand,
2. Pay each of the defendants Roxas, Pastor and Pedrosa, assign as errors the following:
the amount of P50,000.00, P50,000.00, and P25,000.00,
respectively as exemplary damages;
I

3. Pay attorney’s fees to defendants Roxas and Pastor in


THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AWARDING TO
the amount of P20,000.00; and
PETITIONERS THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF ONLY
P12,596,696.425 AND NOT P17,073,122.70 MAKING A
4. Pay the costs of this suit. DIFFERENCE OF P4,476,426.28

A Notice of Appeal23 dated 10 February 1994 was filed by the II


Zuzuarreguis. Subsequently, on 26 April 1995, the Zuzuarreguis filed
their appeal brief with the Court of Appeals. The case was docketed
THE RESPONDENTS SHOULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR INTEREST
as CA-G.R. CV No. 45732.
FROM THE DATE OF THE FILING OF THE COMPLAINT UNTIL
FULLY PAID
A Decision24 was eventually promulgated by the Fifteenth Division of
the Court of Appeals on 25 June 2001, reversing and setting aside
III
the ruling of Branch 98, viz:
THE RESPONDENTS SHOULD BE HELD LIABE FOR MORAL AND
Therefore, We find that the amount of P4,476,426.275 is, in the
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES
opinion of this Court, commensurate to the services rendered by
defendants-appellees. This amount has been arrived at by giving to
defendants-appellees P2.50 per square meter of the 1,790,570.51 IV
square meter expropriated properties of herein plaintiffs-appellants.
THE RESPONDENTS NHA AND JOSE B.H. PEDROSA ARE
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision dated JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE WITH RESPONDENTS
January 3, 1994 of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial ROXAS AND PASTOR32
Region, Branch 98, Quezon City in Civil Case No. 89-4013 entitled
"Antonio Zuzuarregui, Jr., et al. versus National Housing Authority, et ISSUE FOR RESOLUTION
al." for "Sum of Money and Damages," is hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. Defendants-Appellees Roxas and Pastor are hereby Drawn from the above assignment of errors, it is patent that the
ordered to return to plaintiffs-appellants the amount of principal issue that must be addressed by this Court is:
P12,596,696.425, the balance from the P17,073,122.70, received as
yield from NHA bonds after deducting the reasonable attorney’s fees WHETHER OR NOT THE LETTER-AGREEMENT DATED 10
in the amount of P4,476,426.275.25 DECEMBER 1985, EXECUTED BY THE ZUZUARREGUIS, AND
ATTYS. ROXAS AND PASTOR, FIXING THE EXACT AMOUNT
Attys. Roxas and Pastor filed a Motion for Reconsideration26 on 25 THAT MUST GO TO THE FORMER, SHOULD STAND AS LAW
July 2001. The Zuzuarreguis also filed a Motion for BETWEEN THE PARTIES.
Reconsideration27 on 30 July 2001, not having been satisfied with the
award, while the NHA and Pedrosa filed their Motions for THE COURT’S RULING
Reconsideration28 on 03 August 2001.
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, petitioners in G.R. No. 152072, contend in
In a Resolution dated 06 February 2002, the Court of Appeals denied the main that the Zuzuarreguis are only entitled to the amount
for lack of merit all the Motions for Reconsideration. of P17.00 per square meter for the 1,790,570.36 square meters
expropriated by the government. This was, according to them,
On 05 March 2002, Attys. Roxas and Pastor filed a Petition for embodied in the Letter-Agreement dated 10 December 1985,
Review on Certiorari29 assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals, wherein the Zuzuarreguis agreed to accept the price of P17.00 per
docketed as G.R. No. 152072. Likewise, on 21 March 2002, the square meter. Besides, Attys. Roxas and Pastor contend that the
Zuzuarreguis filed their own Petition for Review on price of P17.00 was even way above the P11.00 that the
Certiorari30 assailing the same Decision, docketed as G.R. No. Zuzuarreguis were willing to accept for their properties under the
152104.1avvph!l.ne+ Letter of Engagement executed by the parties earlier on 22 April
1983. Computed at P17.00 per square meter, they stress that the
ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS amount that should go to the Zuzuarreguis for their 1,790,570.36
square meters property should be P30,439,696.10, and that in fact All these requisites were present in the execution of the Letter-
the Zuzuarreguis have received P30,520,000.00. The Letter- Agreement.
Agreement dated 10 December 1985 should thus stand as law
between the parties. Since this Letter-Agreement, which was "as Consent is manifested by the meeting of the offer and the
plain and simple as can be such that there is no need for any further acceptance upon the thing and the cause which are to constitute the
construction," already fixed the amount that would go to the contract.38 The Zuzuarreguis, in entering into the Letter-Agreement,
Zuzuarreguis (P17.00 per square meter), then it should be so. fully gave their consent thereto. In fact, it was them (the
Zuzuarreguis) who sent the said letter to Attys. Roxas and Pastor, for
Attys. Roxas and Pastor further assert that the receipts issued by the the purpose of confirming all the matters which they had agreed upon
Zuzuarreguis dated 14 February 1986 and 17 February 1986 previously. There is absolutely no evidence to show that anybody
indicated that the amounts received by the latter were in "full and was forced into entering into the Letter-Agreement. Verily, its
final payment" for the subject properties. existence, due execution and contents were admitted by the
Zuzuarreguis themselves.39
The NHA, for its part, insists that there was no conspiracy between
Attys. Roxas and Pastor on the one hand, and the NHA and Atty. The second requisite is the object certain. The objects in this case
Pedrosa on the other, on the application of yields from NHA are twofold. One is the money that will go to the Zuzuarreguis
bonds.33 The Zuzuarreguis, according to the NHA, "miserably failed (P17.00 per square meter), and two, the money that will go to Attys.
to substantiate and establish conspiracy" between them. Roxas and Pastor (any and all amount in excess of P17.00 per
square meter). There was certainty as to the amount that will go to
The Zuzuarreguis, for their part, though they were triumphant in the the Zuzuarreguis, and there was likewise certainty as to what amount
Court of Appeals, insist that the amounts awarded them were not will go to Attys. Roxas and Pastor.
enough. According to them, the P12,596,696.425 awarded by the
Court of Appeals was not correct. They should have been awarded The cause is the legal service that was provided by Attys. Roxas and
the amount of P17,073,122.70. Quoting the Zuzuarreguis: Pastor. In general, cause is the why of the contract or the essential
reason which moves the contracting parties to enter into the
Respondents Roxas and Pastor retained for themselves the amount contract.40
of P3,980,000.00 which represented the agreed attorney’s fees of
Roxas and Pastor at P2.50 per square meter. The amount It is basic that a contract is the law between the parties.41 Obligations
of P20,000,000.00 representing the yield of all the bearer bonds was, arising from contracts have the force of law between the contracting
in the words of the Court of Appeals, "deliberately hidden" by parties and should be complied with in good faith. Unless the
respondents Roxas and Pastor from petitioners. By mathematical stipulations in a contract are contrary to law, morals, good customs,
computation, the P20,000,000.00 yield should be proportionately public order or public policy, the same are binding as between the
divided at the ratio of P17.00 (petitioners’) and P2.50 (share of parties.42
respondents Roxas and Pastor). Following this ratio of division, of the
P20,000,000.00 yield, P17,073,122.70 should pertain to petitioners In Licudan v. Court of Appeals,43 we did not allow the Contract for
and the balance of P2,926,877.30 to respondents Roxas and Pastor. Professional Services between the counsel and his client to stand as
Add this amount to the total of P3,980,000.00 at the agreed rate of the law between them as the stipulation for the lawyer’s
P2.50 per square meter, the total attorney’s fees of respondents compensation was unconscionable and unreasonable. We said:
Roxas and Pastor should be P6,906,877.30, not bad, again in the
words of the Court of Appeals, for handling "a simple expropriation
Although the Contract for Professional Services dated August 30,
case which ended up in a compromise agreement." It was, therefore,
1979 was apparently voluntarily signed by the late Aurelio Licudan
in error to still deduct the amount of P4,476,426.28 from petitioners
for himself and on behalf of his daughter, petitioner Cristina Licudan-
share in the yield in the amount of P17,073,122.70 leaving then only
Campos and by the petitioner Wilfredo Licudan who both manifested
P12,596,696.42.
in open court that they gave their free and willing consent to the said
contract, we cannot allow the said contract to stand as the law
What was done, however, is that the product of 1,790,570.36 sq m. between the parties involved considering that the rule that in the
(area of the expropriated land of petitioners) and P2.50 which is presence of a contract for professional services duly executed by the
4,476,426.28 was again deducted from the P17,073,122.70 which is parties thereto, the same becomes the law between the said parties
the corresponding share of the petitioners out of the total yield is not absolute but admits an exception – that the stipulations therein
of P20,000,000.00. If this were a criminal case, petitioners were are not contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy or
being sentenced twice for the same offense.34 public order.44

The Zuzuarreguis further insist that legal interest on the amount Under the contract in question, Attys. Roxas and Pastor are to
of P17,073,122.70 be imposed from the date of the filing of the receive contingent fees45 for their professional services. It is a
complaint, including moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s deeply-rooted rule that contingent fees are not per se prohibited by
fees. law. They are sanctioned by Canon 13 of the Canons of Professional
Ethics, viz:
We sustain the Court of Appeals, but with modification in the
computation. 13. Contingent Fees. –

A contract is a meeting of the minds between two persons whereby A contract for contingent fee, where sanctioned by law, should be
one binds himself, with respect to the other, to give something or to reasonable under all the circumstances of the case including the risk
render some service.35 Contracts shall be obligatory, in whatever and uncertainty of the compensation, but should always be subject to
form they may have been entered into, provided all the essential the supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness.
requisites for their validity are present.36
and Canon 20, Rule 20.01 of the Code of Professional
Under Article 1318 of the Civil Code, there are three essential Responsibility,46 viz:
requisites which must concur in order to give rise to a binding
contract: (1) consent of the contracting parties; (2) object certain
CANON 20 – A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND
which is the subject matter of the contract; and (3) cause of the
REASONABLE FEES.
obligation which is established.37
Rule 20.01. – A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in the P19.50 per square meter just compensation paid by the NHA
determining his fees: must be returned by Attys. Roxas and Pastor.1avvph!l.ne+

(a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered The yield on the NHA bonds amounted to P19,583,878.00. This
or required; amount must therefore be divided between the Zuzuarreguis, on the
one hand, and Attys. Roxas and Pastor, on the other. The division
(b) The novelty and difficulty of the question involved; must be pro rata. The amount of P17.00 that should go to the
Zuzuarreguis represents 87.18% of the P19.50 per square meter just
compensation, The P2.50 per square meter that was to go to Attys.
(c) The importance of the subject matter;
Roxas and Pastor, on the other hand, represents 12.82%.
(d) The skill demanded;
The Zuzuarreguis are entitled to the yield equal to 87.18% of the
P19,583,878.00, while Attys. Roxas and Pastor are entitled to
(e) The probability of losing other employment as a result 12.82% of said amount. The amount corresponding to 87.17% of
of acceptance of the proffered case; P19,583,878.00 is P17,073,224.84. This is the yield that the
Zuzuarreguis are entitled to. Attys. Roxas and Pastor, on the other
(f) The customary charges for similar services and the hand, are entitled to P2,510,653.16.
schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs;
Attys. Roxas and Pastor, in the opinion of this Court, were not
(g) The amount involved in the controversy and the shortchanged for their efforts for they would still be earning or
benefits resulting to the client from the service; actually earned attorney’s fees in the amount of P6,987,078.75
(P4,476,425.59 + P2,510,653.16).
(h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;
The amount of P17,073,224.84 must therefore be returned by Attys.
(i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or Roxas and Pastor to the Zuzuarreguis. They can take this out from
established; and the yield in the amount of P19,583,878.00 which they have
appropriated for themselves.
(j) The professional standing of the lawyer.
On the issue of moral and exemplary damages, we cannot award the
However, in cases where contingent fees are sanctioned by law, the same for there was no direct showing of bad faith on the part of
same should be reasonable under all the circumstances of the case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor, for as we said earlier, contingency fees are
and should always be subject to the supervision of a court, as to its not per se prohibited by law. It is only necessary that it be reduced
reasonableness,47such that under Canon 20 of the Code of when excessive and unconscionable, which we have already done.
Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is tasked to charge only fair and
reasonable fees. We likewise cannot hold the NHA and Atty. Pedrosa jointly and
severally liable to the Zuzuarreguis for there is no evidence to show
Indubitably entwined with the lawyer’s duty to charge only reasonable conspiracy between them.
fees is the power of this Court to reduce the amount of attorney’s
fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable.48 Thus, Section WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing considerations, the
24, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court partly states: Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 25 June 2001
and 06 February 2002, respectively, are AFFIRMED but with the
SEC. 24. Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. – An MODIFICATION that Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor
attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more are hereby ordered to return to the Zuzuarreguis the amount of
than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the P17,073,224.84. No costs.
importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the
services rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. x x SO ORDERED.
x. A written contract for services shall control the amount to be paid
therefore unless found by the court to be unconscionable or MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
unreasonable. Associate Justice

Attorney’s fees are unconscionable if they affront one’s sense of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


justice, decency or reasonableness.49 It becomes axiomatic EN BANC
therefore, that power to determine the reasonableness or the,
unconscionable character of attorney's fees stipulated by the parties GENARO SANTIAGO III, A.M. No. CA-09-47-J
is a matter falling within the regulatory prerogative of the courts.50 Complainant, [Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 08-
121-CA-J]
In the instant case, Attys. Roxas and Pastor received an amount Present:
which was equal to forty-four percent (44%) of the just compensation
paid (including the yield on the bonds) by the NHA to the
Zuzuarreguis, or an amount equivalent to P23,980,000.00 of the Promulgated:
P54,500,000.00. Considering that there was no full blown hearing in
the expropriation case, ending as it did in a Compromise Agreement, February 13, 2009
the 44% is, undeniably, unconscionable and excessive under the - versus -
circumstances. Its reduction is, therefore, in order. This is in
accordance with our ruling in the earlier case of Tanhueco v. De
Dumo51, where we reduced the amount of attorney’s fees from sixty
percent (60%) to fifteen percent (15%), for being excessive and
unreasonable.

It is imperative that the contingent fees received by Attys. Roxas and JUSTICE JUAN Q.
Pastor must be equitably reduced. In the opinion of this Court, the ENRIQUEZ, JR.
yield that corresponds to the percentage share of the Zuzuarreguis in Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x In the present Complaint, complainant alleges, inter
alia, that:
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.: xxxx

By Ist Indorsement[1] dated January 3, 2008, the Court . . . despite the overwhelming evidence
Administrator referred to this Courts Clerk of Court for appropriate of complainant, all corroborated by several
action the verified Complaint dated December 27, 2007, [2] with government agencies like the original duplicate
enclosures, of Genaro Santiago III (complainant) against Court of certificate of OCT No. 56, certified copy of Decree
Appeals Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. (respondent), for gross No. 1275, PC Crime Laboratory report, Bureau of
ignorance of the law and jurisprudence and gross incompetence in Lands record, tracing cloth of survey plan, blue
connection with his rendering of alleged unjust judgment in CA-GR CV print plan, certified technical description all
No. 84167, Genaro C. Santiago III versus Republic of the approved by the Bureau of Lands, among others
Philippines, which was promulgated on December 3, 2007.[3] and adduced and offered in evidence during
trial, Associate Justice Enriquez deliberately
The antecedent facts of the case follow: twisted the law and existing jurisprudence to grant
the appeal, to the extreme prejudice of
Complainant filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) complainant. For this reason, this administrative
in Quezon City a Petition for Reconstitution of Lost/Destroyed Original charge of GROSS IGNORANCE OF
Certificate of Title No. 56, registered in the name of Pantaleona LAW/GROSS INCOMPETENCE is now being
Santiago and Blas Fajardo. filed against respondent Associate Justice Juan
Q. Enriquez, Jr. No one is above the
By Decision of September 2, 2004, Branch 220 of the Quezon City law.[18] (Emphasis and italics in the original;
RTC granted the petition.[4] The Republic of the Philippines through underscoring supplied)
the Office of the Solicitor General appealed the decision to the Court
of Appeals where it was docketed as CA-GR CV No. 84167.

The case was raffled to Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison (Justice In compliance with this Courts Resolution of January 22,
Gonzales-Sison) of the appellate courts Thirteenth Division of which 2008,[19] respondent filed his Comment,[20] branding the complaint as
respondent was Chairperson.Completing the composition of the a mere nuisance, a dirty tactic in order to harass him for the purpose
Division (of three) was Justice Vicente S.E. Veloso (Justice Veloso). of making him inhibit from handling the case the decision on which was
pending consideration. He denies any irregularities attendant to his
On July 11, 2007, Justice Gonzales-Sison submitted her arrival at the Decision which, he maintains, has factual and legal basis
Report,[5] which was used as basis for the Divisions consultation and and is not contrary to law and jurisprudence.
deliberation.[6] By letter of July 18, 2007 addressed to Justices
Gonzales-Sison and Veloso, respondent expressed his dissent from At any rate, respondent contends that the administrative
the Report.[7] Justice Veloso, who originally concurred in the Report, complaint was filed prematurely considering that complainants motion
requested Justice Gonzales-Sison, by letter of July 19, 2007, to take a for reconsideration of the Decision was pending, and that assuming
second look at respondents Dissenting Opinion,[8] as the reasons that the Decision was indeed unjust and contrary to law, then Justices
[Justice Enriquez] gave are strong enough to be ignored by plain Cruz and Veloso, who concurred in his ponencia,should also be
technicality.[9] charged.

In view of his dissent, respondent requested on August 23, 2007 the Finally, and at all events, respondent contends that the
Raffle Committee of the Court of Appeals to designate two associate administrative complaint is not the proper forum for the determination
justices to complete the composition of a Special Division of of whether the Decision is erroneous or contrary to law and
five.[10] The Raffle Committee, by Special Order dated August 24, jurisprudence.
2007, designated Justices Edgardo P. Cruz (Justice Cruz) and Lucas
P. Bersamin (Justice Bersamin) as additional members of In compliance with the directive of the Court,[21] complainant
the Special Division.[11] filed a Reply dated 20, 2008 to respondents Comment[22] in which he
contends that the cases cited by respondent to support the Decision
Justice Veloso soon expressed his concurrence with are not applicable.
respondents Dissenting Opinion.[12] Justice Bersamin expressed his
concurrence with the Report of Justice GonzalesSison, [13] while The complaint is bereft of merit.
Justice Cruz expressed his concurrence with respondents Dissenting
Opinion.[14] That cases cited to support a Decision are not applicable,
and the appreciation of evidence and facts is erroneous, do not
Respondents Dissenting Opinion thus became the majority opinion of necessarily warrant the filing of an administrative complaint against a
the Special Division and the Report-opinion of Justice Gonzales-Sison judge, unless the Decision is tainted with fraud, malice or dishonesty
with which Justice Bersamin concurred became the Dissenting or with deliberate intent to cause injustice.[23]
Opinion.
The remedy of the aggrieved party is not
The Decision of the Special Division reversed and set to file an administrative complaint against the
aside the September 2, 2004 Decision of the Quezon City judge, but to elevate the assailed decision or order
RTC. Complainant filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was to the higher court for review and correction. An
received by the appellate court on December 20, administrative complaint is not an appropriate
2007.[15] On December 27, 2008, complainant filed the present remedy where judicial recourse is still available,
complaint. such as a motion for reconsideration, an appeal,
or a petition for certiorari, unless the assailed
On January 9, 2008, complainant filed a Motion for order or decision is tainted with fraud, malice, or
Disqualification and/or Inhibition [of respondent] pursuant to dishonesty
Paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 137[16] on the ground that he
(complainant) had filed this administrative complaint against The Court has to be shown acts or
respondent. The appellate court denied the motion by Resolution conduct of the judge clearly indicative of the
of April 20, 2008.[17] arbitrariness or prejudice before the latter can be
branded the stigma of being biased and partial. serve to disrupt, rather than promote, the orderly administration of
Thus, unless he is shown to have acted in bad justice.
faith or with deliberate intent to do an injustice, not
every error or mistake that a judge commits in the WHEREFORE, the complaint is DISMISSED.
performance of his duties renders him liableThe
failure to interpret the law or to properly appreciate SO ORDERED.
the evidence presented does not necessarily XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
render a judge administratively liable.[24] (Italics in
the original; underscoring supplied) Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

Assuming arguendo that respondents citation of cases in


SECOND DIVISION
support of the Decision and his appreciation of the facts and evidence
were erroneous, since there is no showing that the Decision,
reconsideration of which was still pending at the time the present A.C. No. 7828 August 11, 2008
complaint was filed, is tainted with fraud, malice or dishonesty or was
rendered with deliberate intent to cause injustice, the complaint must JUDGE ALDEN V. CERVANTES, complainant,
be dismissed. vs.
ATTY. JUDE JOSUE L. SABIO, respondent.
The principle of judicial immunity insulates judges, and
even Justices of superior courts, from being held to account criminally, DECISION
civilly or administratively for an erroneous decision rendered in good
faith.[25] To hold otherwise would render judicial office untenable. No CARPIO MORALES, J.:
one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of
administering justice could be infallible in his judgment.[26]
Judge Alden V. Cervantes (complainant) was the presiding judge of
the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Cabuyao, Laguna until his optional
. . . A judicial officer cannot be called to
retirement on November 23, 2005. Some of the cases lodged in his
account in a civil action for acts done by him in the
sala were ejectment cases filed by Extra-Ordinary Development
exercise of his judicial function, however
Corporation (EDC) against the clients of Atty. Jude Josue L. Sabio
erroneous. In the words of Alzua and Arnalot v.
(respondent). It appears that respondent had filed motions for
Johnson, it is a general principle of the highest
inhibition of complainant "on the basis of the fact that EDC gave him
importance to the proper administration of justice
a house and lot putting into serious doubt his impartiality,
that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority
independence and integrity." The motions were denied.
vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own
convictions, without apprehension of personal
consequences to himself. This concept of judicial After the retirement of complainant, respondent, by Affidavit-
immunity rests upon consideration of public Complaint dated April 6, 2006,1 sought the investigation of
policy, its purpose being to preserve the complainant for bribery.
integrity and independence of the
judiciary. This principle is of universal application In support of the charge, respondent submitted a Sinumpaang
and applies to all grades of judicial officers from Salaysay dated March 6, 2006 of Edwin P. Cardeño,2 a utility worker
the highest judge of the nation and to the lowest in the MTC of Cabuyao, stating that, inter alia, orders and decisions
officer who sits as a court.[27] (Italics in the original; of complainant were not generated from the typewriter of the court
emphasis and underscoring supplied) but from a computer which the court did not have, it having acquired
one only on May 2, 2005; that there had been many times that a
certain Alex of EDC would go to the court bearing certain papers for
It bears particular stress in the present case that the filing of the signature of complainant; that he came to learn that a
charges against a single member of a division of the appellate court is consideration of P500.00 would be given for every order or decision
inappropriate. The Decision was not rendered by respondent in his released by complainant in favor of EDC; and that he also came to
individual capacity. It was a product of the consultations and know that attempts at postponing the hearings of the complaints filed
deliberations by the Special Division of five. Consider the following by EDC were thwarted by complainant as he wanted to expedite the
pronouncement in Bautista v. Abdulwahid:[28] disposition thereof.

By Resolution of August 30, 2006,3 this Court, after noting the July
20, 2006 Memorandum of the Office of the Court Administrator
It is also imperative to state that the (OCA) relative to respondent’s complaint against complainant,
Resolution dated May 31, 2004 was not rendered approved the recommendation of the OCA to dismiss the complaint
by Justice Abdulwahid alone, in his individual for lack of merit, "the complaint being unsubstantiated and motivated
capacity. The Court of Appeals is a collegiate by plain unfounded suspicion, and for having been filed after the
court whose members reach their conclusions in effectivity of his optional retirement" (underscoring supplied).
consultation and accordingly render their collective
judgment after due deliberation. Thus, we have Thus, spawned the present verified December 18, 1996 letter-
held that a charge of violation of the Anti-Graft and complaint4 of complainant against respondent, for disbarment.
Corrupt Practices Act on the ground that a
collective decision is unjust cannot
prosper. Consequently, the filing of charges The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
against a single member of a division of the (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
appellate court is inappropriate. [29] (Underscoring
supplied) From the Report and Recommendation5 of the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, Randall C. Tabayoyong, it is gathered that despite
In fine, while this Court will not shirk from its responsibility to the January 12, 2007 Order for respondent to file an answer to the
discipline members of the bench if they err, it too will not hesitate to complaint, he failed to do so, prompting the Commissioner to declare
shield them if they are charged with unmeritorious charges that only him in default.
It is further gathered that after the conduct by the Investigating The Court finds the action taken by the IBP Board of Governors well
Commissioner of a mandatory conference on May 25, 2007, the taken.
parties were ordered to file their respective position papers. In
compliance with the Order, complainant submitted his verified Respondent ought to be aware that if a court official or employee or a
position paper.6 Respondent did not. lawyer is to be disciplined, the evidence against him should be
substantial, competent and derived from direct knowledge, not on
Defined as issues before the IBP were: mere allegations, conjectures, suppositions, or on the basis of
hearsay.13
(1) Whether . . . the complaint filed by respondent against
the complainant before the Office of the Court No doubt, it is this Court’s duty to investigate the truth behind
Administrator in Admin Matter OCA IPI No. 06-1842-MTJ charges against judges and lawyers. But it is also its duty to shield
was malicious, false and untruthful. them from unfounded suits which are intended to, among other
things, harass them.
(2) If in the affirmative, whether . . . respondent is guilty
under the Code of Professional Responsibility. WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Jude Josue L. Sabio, is FINED in
the amount of Five Thousand (P5,000) Pesos, with a warning that a
On the first issue, the IBP Commissioner did not find respondent’s repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with
complaint against herein complainant false and untruthful, it noting more severely.
that respondent’s complaint was dismissed by this Court due to
insufficiency of evidence which, to the IBP, merely shows a "failure SO ORDERED.
on the part of respondent to prove his allegations" against
complainant. FIRST DIVISION

Noting, however, this Court’s August 30, 2006 Resolution finding JOHN SIY LIM, A.C. No. 5653
respondent’s complaint "unsubstantiated and motivated by plain, Complainant,
unfounded" suspicion, the Investigating Commissioner concluded Present:
that respondent "knowingly instituted not only a groundless suit PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson,
against herein complainant, but also a suit based simply on his bare YNARES-SANTIAGO,
suspicion and speculation." (underscoring supplied) - versus- AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
On the second issue, the IBP found that by filing the groundless CHICO-NAZARIO,* JJ.
bribery charge against complainant, respondent violated the
proscription of the Code of Professional Responsibility against ATTY. CARMELITO A. Promulgated:
"wittingly or willingly promot[ing] or su[ing] any groundless suit" MONTANO,
including baseless administrative complaints against judges and Respondent. February 27, 2006
other court officers and employees. x-------------------------------------------------
-x
The Investigating Commissioner thus concluded that
DECISION
while the evidence on record is sufficient to show that the CALLEJO, SR., J.:
allegations in respondent’s affidavit-complaint against Atty. Carmelito A. Montano stands charged with gross
herein complainant were false, the evidence nonetheless misconduct relative to his filing of Civil Case No. C-19928
show[s] that respondent had knowingly and maliciously entitled Spouses Tomas See Tuazon and Natividad See Deecho v.
instituted a groundless suit, based simply on his unfounded John Siy Lim and the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City.[1]
suspicions against complainant;7 (Underscoring supplied)

and that he violated Canons 10,8 11,9 & 1210 and Rule 11.0411 of the
It appears that complainant John Siy Lim was the defendant
Code of Professional Responsibility under his oath of office.
in Civil Case No. C-14542 for reformation of contract, quieting of title,
with damages, then pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
He accordingly recommended that respondent be fined in the amount of Caloocan City, Branch 131.[2] The subject of the dispute was a 650-
of P5,000, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or square meter conjugal lot along A. del Mundo Street,
similar act will be dealt with more severely. 7th Avenue, Caloocan City covered by Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) No. 860. After trial, the RTC ruled in favor of defendant
The Board of Governors of the IBP, by Notice of (complainant herein), and declared that the deed of sale the parties
Resolution,12 informs that on November 22, 2007, it adopted the executed on July 15, 1987 was an absolute and unconditional
following Resolution adopting and approving with modification the conveyance of subject property by the plaintiff in favor of such
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, viz: defendant. On motion for reconsideration, however, the trial court
reversed itself and declared that the sale was in fact an equitable
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby mortgage. It thus ordered the cancellation of TCT No. 152621 and the
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with reinstatement of the previous title on the subject property.
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case,
herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, The complainant appealed the case to the Court of Appeals,
finding the recommendation fully supported by the docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 40167. In its Decision dated March 31,
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and 1995, the appellate court reversed the ruling of the RTC, to wit:
considering Respondent’s violation of Canons 10, 11 and
12 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional
responsibility for filing a groundless suit against
complainant, Atty. Jude Sabio is WHEREFORE, the appealed Order
hereby REPRIMANDED with Stern Warning that a dated November 16, 1992, is hereby
repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the original
severely. (Emphasis in the original) Decision of the trial court, dated December 2,
1991, hereby REINSTATED, with the
modification that plaintiff-appellee is ordered to 6. Evidently, I have been subjected to
pay defendant-appellant the sum of Five harassment by the antics of the respondent in
Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos a month as filing a recycled case docketed as Civil Case No.
reasonable rental for the use and occupation of C-19928 on January 07, 2002. Respondent is
Apartment No. 161 from July 15, 1988 until the guilty in abetting the conduct of his
premises shall have been vacated and clients, Sps. Tuazon. He has clearly violated his
possession thereof peacefully turned over to lawyers oath not to promote or sue groundless,
defendant-appellant. false or unlawful suits among others. Instead of
counseling his clients to abide and obey the
decision of our Supreme Court, the final arbiter
The counterclaim for attorneys fees of of all controversies and disputes, he is showing
defendant-appellant is DENIED. There is no disrespect to a final and executory decision of
clear showing that the action taken by plaintiff- our court.[13]
appellee was done in bad faith. There should be In his Comment,[14] respondent denied the allegations
no penalty on the right to litigate.[3] against him. While he admitted that he filed Civil Case No. C-19928 as
counsel for the plaintiff therein, he claimed that it was not filed with
malicious intent. Moreover, while the new case involved the same
The aggrieved party elevated the matter to this Court, and party, it was for a different cause of action and relief, and, as such, the
the petition was docketed as G.R. No. 119794. On October 3, 2000, principle of res judicata did not apply. He further explained that the
the Court affirmed the ruling of the CA and denied the petition.[4] Entry complaint in Civil Case No. C-14542 was for declaratory relief or
of judgment was made of record on October 3, 2000.[5] reformation of instrument, while Civil Case No. 19928 was for
annulment of title. He accepted the case based on his professional
appreciation that his client had a good case.
On January 4, 2002, respondent filed a Notice of In his Reply,[15] the complainant stressed that the
Appearance[6] as counsel of Tomas See Tuazon (the losing party) in respondent was guilty of forum shopping; Civil Case No. C-19928 was
the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 131 in Civil Case No. C-14542. nothing but a revival of the old complaint; and the lame excuse of the
On January 7, 2002, he filed, in behalf of his client, a Motion to Comply respondent that the present case is an action in rem while the other
to [sic] Decision without Writ,[7] worded as follows: case is an action in personam did not merit consideration.
1. Plaintiff is aware that pursuant to On November 25, 2002, the Court resolved to refer the
the decision of the court, as affirmed by the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, the report and recommendation.[16]
decision on the present case had already
become final and executory. On September 1, 2003, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline assigned the case to Commissioner Salvador L. Pea. Only
2. In order to avoid undue the counsel for the respondent appeared at the mandatory conference
inconvenience on the part of herein defendant, held on September 30, 2003. Finding that there were no factual issues
plaintiff shall voluntarily settle the money in the case, Commissioner Pea terminated the mandatory conference
judgment as stated in the decision sought to be and ordered the parties to submit their respective verified Position
enforced. Papers, and, thereafter, considered the case submitted for resolution.
3. The plaintiff will be filing Eight The case was re-assigned to
Hundred Ten Thousand (P810,000.00) Pesos, Commissioner Doroteo B. Aguila who submitted his Report and
equivalent to 162 months of rent as per decision Recommendation dated May 9, 2005, finding the respondent guilty of
and the same to be covered misconduct. It was recommended that respondent be meted a two
by supersedeas bond issued by a reliable months suspension from the practice of law.
insurance company to answer for said obligation.
According to the Investigating Commissioner, the elements
4. Every month starting February 15, of res judicata are present in this case as to bar the filing of Civil Case
2002, plaintiff shall deposit to the court the No. C-19928 since (a) the judgment in Civil Case No. C-14542,
amount of P5,000.00 as monthly rent.[8] upholding the validity of the absolute deed of sale, had attained finality;
(b) the court which rendered the decision had the required jurisdiction;
On the same date, respondent, in behalf of his clients (the spouses
and (c) the disposition of the case was a judgment on the merits.
Tomas See Tuazon) filed the Complaint[9] for nullity of TCT and other
documents, reconveyance, maintenance of physical possession On October 22, 2005, the Board of Governors of the IBP Commission
before the RTC of Caloocan City, eventually raffled to Branch 121 on Bar Discipline issued Resolution No. XVII-2005-108, adopting said
thereof (Civil Case No. C-19928). Report and Recommendation with the modification that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months.
Meantime, on February 19, 2002,
Judge Luisito C. Sardillo of Branch 126[10] issued an Order[11] in Civil We agree that respondent is administratively liable.
Case No. C-14542 granting the Motion for Execution with
Manifestation earlier filed by the prevailing party (complainant herein), In this case, it is clear that respondent is guilty of forum
and denying for lack of merit, the Motion to Comply to [sic] Decision shopping. By his own admission, he was aware that Civil Case No. C-
without Writ filed by respondent counsel. 14542 was already final and executory when he filed the second case
(Civil Case No. C-19928). His allegation that he was not the original
This prompted the complainant to file the instant complaint counsel of his clients and that when he filed the subsequent case for
for disbarment against respondent. In his Complaint- nullity of TCT, his motive was to protect the rights of his clients whom
Affidavit[12] dated March 20, 2002, complainant alleged that he believed were not properly addressed in the prior case for
respondent filed the complaint in Civil Case No. C-19928 out of malice, reformation and quieting of title, deserves scant consideration. As a
pointing out that it involves the same parties, the same causes of responsible member of the bar, he should have explained the effect of
action and relief prayed for as that of Civil Case No. C-14542. Thus, such final and executory decision on his clients rights, instead of
the complainant prayed that the respondent be disbarred and/or encouraging them to file another case involving the same property and
suspended from the practice of law for his gross misconduct, on the asserting the same rights.
following allegation:
The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits
involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either
simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a WHEREFORE, for violating Canon 12 of the Code of
favorable judgment. It exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion Professional Responsibility, respondent Atty. Carmelito A. Montano
in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion in another, or when he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.
institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same He is STERNLY WARNED that any future violation of his duties as a
cause to increase the chances of obtaining a favorable decision. An lawyer will be dealt with more severely. This Decision is immediately
important factor in determining its existence is the vexation caused to executory. Atty. Montano is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date
the courts and the parties-litigants by the filing of similar cases to claim of receipt of this decision.
substantially the same reliefs.[17] Forum shopping exists where the
elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in SO ORDERED.
one case will amount to res judicata in another.[18] Thus, the following XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
requisites should concur:
(a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as SECOND DIVISION
represent the same interests in both actions, (b)
identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the A.C. No. 5474 August 28, 2003
relief being founded on the same facts, and (c) the
identity of the two preceding particulars is such that REDENTOR S. JARDIN, Complainant,
any judgment rendered in the other action will, vs.
regardless of which party is successful, amount ATTY. DEOGRACIAS VILLAR, JR. Respondent.
to res judicatain the action under consideration.
x x x[19]
DECISION
The fact that the parties in the first and second cases are not
identical will not prevent the application of the principle of res judicata. TINGA, J.:
Mere substantial identity of parties, or a community of interests
between a party in the first case and a party in the subsequent case, Law is a profession and lawyers are professionals. Implicit in
even if the latter was not impleaded in the first case, is professionalism is a certain level of competence and dedication. Far
sufficient.[20] Moreover, a party cannot, by varying the form of action or from measuring up to the standards of a lawyer's conduct set in
adopting a different method of presenting his case, escape the the Code of Professional Responsibility which are also the hallmarks
operation of the principle that one and the same cause of action shall of professionalism, the lawyer charged in this case virtually
not be twice litigated between the same parties or their privies.[21] This abandoned his client's cause.
was what respondent resorted to in order to give some semblance of
merit to the complaint for annulment of title. He should have realized
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Redentor S.
that
Jardin against respondent Atty. Deogracias Villar, Jr., who was his
the ruling of the Court in Tuazon v. Court of Appeals[22] effectively counsel in a case, for the latter's failure to formally offer the
determined with finality the rights and obligations of the parties under documentary exhibits, which failure resulted in the dismissal of the
the questioned deed of sale. case.

A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client but not at The complainant Redentor S. Jardin is the plaintiff in Civil Case No.
the expense of truth and the administration of justice.[23] The filing of 21480 of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City. A building
multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Courts processes and contractor, he engaged the services of the respondent to represent
improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the him in the case which is for the collection of the sum of One Hundred
administration of justice and will be punished as contempt of court. Five Thousand Seven Hundred Forty Four and 80/100 Pesos
Needless to state, the lawyer who files such multiple or repetitious (P105,744.80), representing the alleged unpaid contract price for the
petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and repair of the house of the defendants in the case.1 The case went its
executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for course, but later despite several extensions of time given by the trial
incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his court, the respondent failed to file his formal offer of
duties as an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to exhibits.2 Consequently, on May 7, 2001, the trial court issued
maintain only such actions as appear to him to be just and are an Order the full text of which reads as follows:
consistent with truth and honor. [24]
The filing of another action concerning the same subject When this case was called for continuation of hearing, Atty. Rodrigo
matter, in violation of the doctrine of res judicata, runs contrary to C. Reyes, counsel for the defendants manifested that up to this date,
Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires a Atty. Villar, Jr., counsel for the plaintiff has not formally offer (sic) the
lawyer to exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the documentary exhibits for the plaintiff in writing as Order (sic) by the
speedy and efficient administration of justice. By his actuations, Court.
respondent also violated Rule 12.02[25] and Rule 12.04[26] of the Code,
as well as a lawyers mandate to delay no man for money or malice.[27] Records show that on February 26, 2001, Atty. Villar, Jr. was given
an extension period of TEN (10) days within which to formally offer
Lawyers should be reminded that their primary duty is to the documentary exhibits in writing copy furnished Atty. Reyes,
assist the courts in the administration of justice. Any conduct which counsel for the defendants who was given a period of Five (5) days
tends to delay, impede or obstruct the administration of justice within which to comment and/or oppose the admissibility of the said
contravenes such lawyers duty. Indeed, the Court has time and again exhibits and set the continuation of the hearing of this case for the
warned not to resort to forum shopping for this practice clogs the court presentation of evidence for the defendant on March 30, 2001.
dockets.[28]
While we rule that the respondent should be sanctioned for On March 30, 2001, when this case was called for hearing records
his actions, we also note that the power to disbar should be exercised show that Atty. Villar, Jr., counsel for the plaintiff has not complied
with great caution, to be imposed only in a clear case of misconduct yet with the formal offer of documentary exhibits for the plaintiff and
that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an again, in the interest of justice, the Court give (sic) Atty. Villar, Jr.
officer of the Court and as a member of the bar. Disbarment should another period of TEN (10) days within which to formally offer the
never be decreed where any lesser penalty could accomplish the end documentary exhibits in writing and set the continuation of the
desired.[29] hearing of this case for today for the presentation of evidence for the
defendant.
Records show however, that on this date, the said counsel for the In its Resolution dated April 26, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors
plaintiff have (sic) not complied with the submission of documentary adopted and approved said Report and Recommendation of the
exhibits for the plaintiff. For lack of interest on the part of the counsel Investigating Commissioner.
for the plaintiff to further prosecute this case, upon motion of Atty.
Reyes the oral testimonial evidence submitted by the plaintiff is We are also in full accord with the findings and recommendation of
hereby ordered WITHDRAWN from the records and upon further the Investigating Commissioner.
motion of ordered WITHDRAWN from the records and upon further
motion of Atty. Reyes, this case is hereby ordered DISMISSED for
At the outset, we find particularly glaring the respondent's disregard
lack of interest on the part of the plaintiff to further prosecute this
of the resolution of this Court directing him to file his comment on the
case.
complaint. He exhibited a similar attitude in failing to file his answer
when required by the Commission on Bar Discipline. The repeated
Upon motion of Atty. Reyes, set the continuation of the hearing of cavalier conduct belies impudence and lack of respect for the
this case for the presentation of evidence on the counter claim on the authority of this Court.
part of the defendant on June 15, 2001 at 8:30 o'clock in the
morning.3
The record clearly shows that the respondent has been languid in the
performance of his duties as counsel for the complainant. He was
The dismissal of the collection case prompted the complainant to file given by the trial court several extensions of time: first, an extension
a verified Affidavit-Complaint4 dated July 4, 2001 for the disbarment of ten (10) days from February 26, 2001 or until March 8, 2001,
of the respondent with this Court, wherein he also alleged the and; second, another extension of ten (10) days from March 30,
developments which transpired after the dismissal of the 2001, when the case was called for hearing and the court noted that
case, viz: that he already terminated the services of the respondent no such formal offer had been filed then, or until April 9, 2001. It must
as his counsel; that the respondent failed to return the originals of the also be emphasized that there was an interim period of twenty two
documentary exhibits entrusted to him; and that the respondent (22) days between March 8, 2001 and March 30, 2001, and another
finally handed over the documents only as an aftermath of a heated interval of twenty-seven (27) days from April 9, 2001 until May 7,
argument he had with the complainant's wife. 2001 when the Order dismissing the case was issued. Effectively,
therefore, respondent had three (3) months and nine (9) days within
In a Resolution5 dated September 10, 2001, this Court required the which to file the formal offer of exhibits.9 The respondent did not
respondent to comment on the complaint against him. However, the bother to give an explanation even in mitigation or extenuation of his
respondent failed to file his comment despite two (2) extensions of inaction.
time granted to him. Thus, the Court resolved to dispense with the
filing of the respondent's comment and referred the case to the Manifestly, the respondent has fallen short of the competence and
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and diligence required of every member of the Bar. The pertinent Canons
recommendation.6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provide:

Similarly, the respondent failed to file his answer as required by the CANON 12 - A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND
Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP.7Hence, the averments CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN THE SPEEDY AND
made, as well as the evidence submitted by the complainant, are EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
undisputed.
....
Investigating Commissioner Attorney Milagros V. San Juan, IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline, found the respondent liable for
Rule 12.03 - A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to
negligence and recommended his suspension from the practice of
file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without
law for a period of six (6) months, with the warning that a similar
submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.
conduct in the future will be dealt with more severely. The salient
portions of the Report and Recommendation dated March 4, 2003 of
the Investigating Commissioner are as follows: CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS
CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND
CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM.
Complainant's contention that respondent Villar failed to file plaintiff's
Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence is substantiated by the
Orders dated 26 February 2001, 30 March 2001 and 7 May 2001 CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH
(Annexes 7, 9 and 10 respectively). The Order dated 7 May 2001 COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
(Annex 10 of complainant's Affidavit) reads:
....
....
Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to
It is clear from the above-quoted Order that it was the failure of him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him
respondent Villar to file the Formal Offer of Documentary Exhibits liable.
which led to the dismissal of Civil Case No. 21480 to the prejudice of
respondent's client, herein complainant. Respondent Villar has failed ....
to offer any explanation for his failure to file the Formal Offer of
Exhibits within the several extensions of time given him by the trial CANON 19 - A LAWYER SHAL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH
court to do so. There is no doubt that it was part of respondent's ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW.
obligation to complainant as the latter's counsel of record in Civil
Case No. 21480, to file said Formal Offer of Documentary Exhibits, It is indeed dismaying to note the respondent's patent violation of his
and respondent's dereliction of this duty has prejudiced the interests duty as a lawyer. He committed a serious transgression when he
of respondent's client. In accepting Civil Case No. 21480, it was failed to exert his utmost learning and ability and to give entire
respondent's obligation to take all measures to protect the interests devotion to his client's cause. His client had relied on him to file the
of his client in accordance with Canon (sic) 18 & 19 of the Code of formal offer of exhibits among other things. But he failed him.
Professional Responsibility but it was respondent's negligence or Resulting as it did in the dismissal of the case, his failure constitutes
omission which has caused damage to such interests.8 inexcusable default. It therefore behooves the Court to take action on
the respondent's mortal infraction, which caused undeserved and
needless prejudice to his client's interest, adversely affected the
confidence of the community in the legal profession and eroded the
public's trust in the judicial system. As an attorney, the respondent is Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal records of
sworn to do his level best and to observe full fidelity to the courts and respondent as a member of the Bar, and copies furnished the Bar
his clients.10 This means that in relation to his duty to his clients he Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Court
should put his maximum skills and full commitment to bear in Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
representation of their causes.
SO ORDERED.
We can only echo our pronouncements in Basas v. Icawat,11 to wit:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx
Respondent manifestly fell short of the diligence required of his
profession, in violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional SECOND DIVISION
Responsibility, which mandates that a lawyer shall serve his client
with competence and diligence. Rule 18.03 provides:

"A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
G.R. No. 123698 August 5, 1998
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable."
ETERNAL GARDENS MEMORIAL PARK
As we reiterated in Aromin, et al. v. Boncavil, A. C. No. 5135,
CORPORATION, petitioner,
September 22, 1999:
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SPS. LILIA SEVILLA and JOSE
Once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes SEELIN, respondents.
fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed in him. He must serve the client with
MARTINEZ, A.M., J.:
competence and diligence, and champion the latter's cause with
wholehearted fidelity, care, and devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes
entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the This is the second time petitioner Eternal Gardens Memorial Park
maintenance and defense of his client's rights, and the exertion of his Corporation has come to this Court assailing the execution of the
utmost learning and ability to the end that nothing be taken or judgment dated August 24, 1989, rendered by the Regional Trial
withheld from his client, save by the rules of law, legally applied. This Court of Caloocan City in Civil Case No. C-9297. Apparently, hope
simply means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every springs eternal for petitioner, considering that the issues raised in this
remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land he may second petition for review are but mere reiterations of previously
expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. If much is settled issues which have already attained finality. We now write finis
demanded from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to to this controversy which has dragged on for seventeen (17) years,
practice law carries with it the correlative duties not only to the client for as we ruled in Gomez vs. PresidingJudge, RTC, Br. 15, Ozamis
but also to the court, to the bar, and to the public. A lawyer who City: 1
performs his duty with diligence and candor not only protects the
interest of his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to . . . litigations must end and terminate sometime
the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal and somewhere, it being essential to the effective
profession.12 administration of justice that once a judgment
has become final, the winning party be not,
This Court has emphatically ruled that the trust and confidence through a mere subterfuge, deprived of the fruits
necessarily reposed by clients requires in the attorney a high of the verdict. Hence, courts must guard
standard and appreciation of his duty to his clients, his profession, themselves against any scheme to bring about
the courts and the public.13 Every case a lawyer accepts deserves his that result, for constituted as they are to put an
full attention, diligence, skill and competence, regardless of its end to controversies, they should frown upon any
importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or free.14 Certainly, a attempt to prolong it. Public policy and sound
member of the Bar who is worth his title cannot afford to practice the practice demand that at the risk of occasional
profession in a lackadaisical fashion. A lawyer's lethargy from the errors, judgments of courts should become final
perspective of the Canons is both unprofessional and unethical. and irrevocable at some definite date fixed by
law. Interes rei publicae ut finis sit litium.
The IBP recommended the suspension of the respondent from the
practice of law for a period of six (6) months. We find the The facts:
recommended penalty commensurate with the offense
committed.1âwphi1 The case started on May 18, 1981 when private respondent-spouses
Jose Seelin and Lilia Sevilla Seelin filed a complaint against Central
In Aromin v. Boncavil,15 this Court suspended a lawyer for six (6) Dyeing & Finishing Corporation (Central Dyeing for brevity) for
months for his failure to file a written offer of evidence despite the quieting of title and for declaration of nullity of Transfer Certificate of
trial court's directive. Title (TCT No. 205942) issued in the name of said corporation,
docketed as Civil Case No. C-9297, before the Regional Trial Court
of Caloocan City.
The failure to file formal offer of evidence is in pari materia with
failure to file brief, which as this Court held in Perla Compania de
Seguros, Inc. v. Saquilabon16 constitutes inexcusable negligence. In On August 24, 1989, the trial court rendered judgment, 2 the
the Saquilabon case, the respondent lawyer was suspended from the dispositive portion of which reads:
practice of law for a period of six (6) months. The Court likewise
imposed the same penalty upon the respondents in the cases of In WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
Re: Atty. David Briones,17 Spouses Galen v. Paguinigan,18 Spouses
Rabanal v. Rabanal19 for their failure to file the briefs of their Declaring the defendant's Certificate of Title No.
respective clients. 205942 null and void.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Deogracias Dismissing counterclaim of defendant without
Villar is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months pronouncement as to costs.
effective upon finality hereof, with the WARNING that the repetition of
a similar violation will be dealt with even more severely.
The aforesaid decision was affirmed 3 by respondent Court of execution highly unjust, illegal and inequitable; that the issuance of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 25989 on June 25, 1991 and eventually the assailed writ of execution violates the lot buyers' freedom of
upheld by this Court in G.R. No. L-101819 on November 25, 1991. religion and worship; and that private respondents' title is being
Said dismissal became final on March 5, 1992. 4 questioned in another case.

The RTC decision, having become final and executory, private On September 29, 1995, the respondent court rendered
respondents moved for execution which was granted by the lower judgment 12 dismissing the petition for certiorari on the ground that
court. Accordingly, a writ of execution of the decision was issued. the lower court's decision in Civil Case No. 9297 had long become
final and executory. It ruled, thus:
Subsequently, private respondents filed an Urgent Manifestation and
Motion for an Immediate Writ of Possession/Break Open Order. The This Court needs (sic) not belabor the fact that
motion was opposed by herein petitioner Eternal Gardens Memorial the respondent Court's decision in Civil Case No.
Park Corporation contending that it is not submitting to the 9297 had long become final and executory. The
jurisdiction of the trial court; that it is completely unaware of the suit respondent court's writs of execution and
between private respondents and Central Dyeing; that it is the true possession could have been implemented a long
and registered owner of the lot having bought the same from Central time ago if not for the series of legal maneuvers
Dyeing; and that it was a buyer in good faith. of petitioner Eternal Gardens. . . . Petitioner
Eternal Gardens cannot anymore stop the
On July 1, 1992, the trial court granted private respondents' motion. execution of a final judgment by raising issues
Another Order was issued on August 18, 1992 by the trial court which actually have been ruled upon by this
holding that the judgment was binding on petitioner, being the Court in its earlier case with Us in CA-G.R. SP
successor-in-interest of defendant Central Dyeing pursuant to Rule No. 28797. To Our mind, the instant petition is a
39, Section 48 (b) of the Revised Rules of Court. mere continuation of petitioner's dilatory tactics
so that plaintiffs, although prevailing party, will
not benefit at all from a final judgment in their
Petitioner went to the Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari. On
favor. Thus, the instant petition is obviously,
September 30, 1992 the Court of Appeals rendered judgment
frivolous and dilatory warranting the assessment
dismissing the petition, excerpts of which read:
of double costs of this suit against petitioner Sec.
3, Rule 142 of the Revised Rules of Court).
We reviewed carefully the assailed orders and
find no compelling reason to disturb the same.
Moreover, as manifested by the plaintiffs, herein
private respondents, the instant petition has
Indeed, since petitioner admits that it bought the already become moot and academic as the
property from Central Dyeing and Finishing property in question was already turned over by
Corporation, defendant in Civil Case No. C-9297, the Deputy Sheriff to the plaintiffs, and the writs
petitioner is bound by the decision rendered of execution and possession fully satisfied. Thus,
therein by respondent Judge. hopefully, putting the legal battle of this case to
rest. (Emphasis ours.)
Under Section 20, Rule 3, Revised Rules of
Court, a transferee pendente lite does not have The motion for reconsideration was likewise denied on January 30,
to be included or impleaded by name in order to 1996. 13
be bound by the judgment because the action or
suit may be continued for or against the original
Petitioner once again seeks this Court's intervention reiterating in
party or the transferor and still be binding on the
essence the same line of arguments espoused in their petition before
transferee 5
the respondent Court of Appeals.
The motion for reconsideration was also denied by the Court of
The petition must fail.
Appeals on February 18, 1993. 6

It is a settled rule that once a court renders a final judgment, all the
On further appeal to this Court, petitioner's petition for review
issues between or among the parties before it are deemed resolved
on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 109076, was denied in a
and its judicial functions with respect to any matter related to the
resolution dated August 2, 1993. 7 Upon finality of said resolution,
controversy litigated come to an end.
this Court issued Entry of Judgment dated October 21, 1993. 8

Petitioner's argument that the trial court cannot order it and the one
Thereafter, private respondents filed another motion for the issuance
hundred (100) memorial lot owners to surrender and/or deliver
of a second writ of execution before the trial court which was granted
possession of the property in dispute on the ground that they were
in the Order of July 20, 1994.
never parties to the case between private respondents and Central
Dyeing, has long been resolved by respondent Court of Appeals in
Not willing to give up, petitioner sought a reconsideration. Petitioner's CA-G.R. SP No. 28797 when it ruled.
motion was initially granted 9 on August 29, 1994 by the trial court
thru Judge Arturo Romero. However, upon motion of private
Indeed, since petitioner admits that it bought the
respondents, the said order was reconsidered on December 19,
property from Central Dyeing and Finishing
1994 10 by Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr., who succeeded Judge
Corporation, defendant in Civil Case No. C-9297,
Romero. Forthwith, alias writs of execution were issued.
petitioner is bound by the decision rendered
therein by respondent Judge.
Desperately needing a favorable judgment, petitioner, for the second
time, filed a petition for certiorari 11 with respondent Court of Appeals
Under Section 20, Rule 3, Revised Rules of
(docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 36591), arguing inter alia: that the
Court, a transferee pendente lite does not have
judgment cannot be executed against it because it was not a party to
to be included or impleaded by name in order to
Civil Case No. C-9297; that the decision of the trial court in said case
be bound by the judgment because the action or
never mandated Central Dyeing to deliver possession of the property
suit may be continued for or against the original
to the private respondents; that certain facts and circumstances
party or the transferor and still be binding on the
which occurred after the finality of the judgment will render the
transferee. 14
The aforesaid decision was affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. The court directs and orders the defendant to
109076 and attained finality on October 21, 1993. There is, therefore, give access to the plaintiffs and as proposed by
no need for us to belabor the same issue here. the plaintiffs, they are given authority to destroy a
small portion of the fence so that they can have
Further, petitioner's contention that a determination of the issue of access to the property. But as to the demolition
possession should first be resolved before the issuance of a writ of of the burial lots, negotiation could be made by
possession is untenable. the defendant with the former owner so that cash
payment or cash settlement be made. 16
Placing private respondents in possession of the land in question is
the necessary and logical effect or consequence of the decision in Even the former Presiding Judge Arturo A. Romero, in his Order
Civil Case No. C-9297 declaring them as the rightful owners of the dated July 20, 1994, imposed the following limitation on the writ of
property. As correctly argued by the private respondents, they do not execution, as follows:
have to institute another action for the purpose of taking possession
of the subject realty. Moreover, considering the manifestation that
large areas within the Eternal Gardens have
Petitioner likewise asserts that certain facts and circumstances been sold to so many persons who now have
transpired after the finality of judgment in Civil Case No. C-9297 buried their beloved ones in the grave lots
which will reader the execution of the said judgment unjust and adjoining the lot in question, it is therefore, in the
illegal. It points to the pendency of Civil Case No. C-11337 before the interest of justice and equity, that the
Regional Trial Court of Caloocan City filed by the Republic of the enforcement of the writ of possession and break
Philippines against private respondents for nullification of 22 titles open order should be applied only to the gate of
which include the title to the subject property. Petitioner argues that Eternal Gardens Memorial Park at the eastern
the pendency of the said case provides a reasonable justification why side nearest to the parcel of land in question
execution of the aforesaid judgment and delivery of possession of the where the factory of the defendant is located, in
subject property should be permanently stayed or at least held in order to avoid disturbing the peace of the resting
abeyance until after the final resolution of the case. souls over the graves the parcels of land within
the said memorial park. 17
We do not agree.
From the above-mentioned orders, it can be seen that the issue as to
the status of the burial lot owners has been properly addressed.
The pendency of Civil Case No. C-11337 for annulment of titles filed
by the Republic against private respondents will not justify the
suspension of the execution of the judgment in Civil Case No. C- Be that as it may, the petition has been rendered moot and academic
9297. This is so because the petitioner's title which originated from in view of the fact that the questioned AliasWrit of Possession dated
Central Dyeing (TCT No. 205942) was already annulled in the December 27, 1994 and the Alias Writ of Execution dated December
judgment sought to be executed, and which judgment had long been 27, 1994 have already been implemented by the Sheriff as shown by
affirmed by the Court of Appeals and by this Court. Thus, even if, in the "Sheriffs Return," 18 dated March 31, 1995, with the attached
the remote possibility, the trial court will nullify the said private "Turn Over Premises" 19 indicating therein that private respondents
respondents' title in Civil Case No. C-11337, as argued by petitioner, took possession of the subject property.
the supposed adverse decision cannot validate TCT No. 205942 and
make petitioner the rightful owner of the subject land. Clearly, the A note of caution. This case has again delayed the execution of a
present petition was instituted merely to delay the execution of the final judgment for seventeen (17) years to the prejudice of the private
judgment. respondents. In the meantime that petitioner has thwarted execution,
interment on the disputed lot has long been going on, so that by the
Finally, petitioner's fear that the grave lots will be disturbed, time this case is finally terminated, the whole lot shall have already
desecrated and destroyed once the execution of the judgment been filled with tombstones, leaving nothing for private respondents,
proceeds is more imagined than real. A perusal of the Orders of the the real owners of the property. This is a mockery of justice.
trial court with regard to the execution of the judgment reveals that
the interests of said burial lot owners have been taken into account We note that while lawyers owe entire devotion to the interest of their
by the trial court when it took steps and made suggestions as to how clients and zeal in the defense of their client's right, they should not
their rights could be amply protected. In its Order dated February 13, forget that they are officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to
1995, the trial court, through Judge Emilio L. Leachon, Jr., stated: assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. They
should not, therefore, misuse the rules of procedure to defeat the
The defendant-petitioner are (sic) however not ends of justice or unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a
completely without recourse or remedy because judgment or misuse court processes. 20 In Banogan et. al. vs. Cerna,
they can still go after the original party-defendant et. al., 21 we ruled:
or transferor of the property in question which is
Central Dyeing and Finishing Corporation As officers of the court, lawyers have a
pursuant to Section 20, Rule 3 of the Rules of responsibility to assist in the proper
Court. And should it be difficult or nay impossible administration of justice. They do not discharge
for plaintiff-respondents to be placed in this duty by filing pointless petitions that only add
possession of the subject property, due to to the workload of the judiciary, especially this
defendant-petitioners' arguments that the same Court, which is burdened enough as it is. A
have already been sold to burial lot buyers, then judicious study of the facts and the law should
it should be incumbent for the defendant- advise them when a case such as this, should
petitioners to negotiate with the plaintiff- not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the
respondents for payment in cash of the property already congested judicial dockets. They do not
subject of their complaint to avoid demolition or advance the cause of law or their clients by
desecration since they benefited from the sale of commencing litigations that for sheer lack of
the burial lots. 15 merit do not deserve the attention of the courts.

In another order dated May 4, 1995, the following directive was WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
given, to wit:
SO ORDERED.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX land between therein petitioners and Mabanag on February 18, 1985
was correctly upheld by both courts below.
EN BANC
Thereafter, according to the complainant, the respondent, acting for
A.C. No. 5469 August 10, 2004 and in behalf of his clients, the Mabanag Spouses, filed several
cases7 questioning the ruling of the Court in G.R. No. 103577. The
complainant contended that the multiple pleadings and actions
RICARDO A. FORONDA, complainant,
pursued by the respondent indicate that he violated his oath as an
vs.
officer of the court and breached the Code of Professional
ATTY. ARNOLD V. GUERRERO, respondent.
Responsibility for Lawyers. The complainant thereafter prayed that
the instant complaint be referred to the Integrated Bar of the
DECISION Philippines for proper investigation and action.8

The Respondent’s Defense


CALLEJO, SR., J.:
The respondent, for his part, filed a Motion to Cite Complainant and
The instant disbarment case arose when Ricardo A. Foronda, acting Counsel in Contempt Without Prejudice to Disciplinary Action Against
as attorney-in-fact for Ramona Patricia Alcaraz and Concepcion D. Counsel,9 alleging that in an attempt to cause disrepute, dishonor
Alcaraz, filed a verified Letter-Complaint1 dated June 29, 2001 with and to cast aspersion on him, the complainant’s counsel virtually
the Office of the Bar Confidant charging Atty. Arnold V. Guerrero with "published and made known publicly" the instant administrative case
abusing "procedural rules to defeat the ends of substantial justice by against him by filing a Manifestation in Civil Case No. Q-01-43396
filing appeals, complaints and petitions to frustrate and delay the before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 80. According
execution of a judgment." to the respondent, this grossly violated the confidentiality in
administrative proceedings.10
The Antecedents
In his Comment,11 the respondent did not deny that the decision in
The complainant alleged that his principals, Ramona and Civil Case No. Q-44134 was already final and executory, as it had
Concepcion Alcaraz, filed Civil Case No. Q-44134 entitled already been affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme
"Concepcion Alcaraz, et al. v. Romeo Coronel, et al." for specific Court in their respective decisions. The respondent put forth the
performance and damages before the Regional Trial Court of following arguments to justify the dismissal of the instant complaint:
Quezon City, Branch 83. The case involved a parcel of land which
the defendants therein sold to the Alcarazes, and, thereafter, while A. THE SUBSEQUENT CASES FILED INVOLVED
the case was pending, to Catalina Balais-Mabanag. Assisted by her LEGITIMATE AND VALID RESORT TO JUDICIAL
husband Eleuterio Mabanag, and with the respondent as their PROCESSES AND REMEDIES; HENCE, THERE IS NO
lawyer, Catalina intervened in the case. BASIS FOR THE CHARGE THAT THE RESPONDENT
COUNSEL HAS ABUSED PROCEDURAL PROCESSES
On March 1, 1989, the RTC rendered a Decision2 in favor of the TO DEFEAT THE ENDS OF SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE.
plaintiffs, the dispositive portion of which reads:
B. THE COMPLAINT MUST AND SHOULD BE
WHEREFORE, judgment for specific performance is DISMISSED ON THE GROUND OF FORUM SHOPPING
hereby rendered ordering defendant to execute in favor of AND VIOLATION OF SECTION 5, RULE 7 OF THE 1997
plaintiffs a deed of absolute sale covering that parcel of RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.
land embraced in and covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 327403 (now TCT No. 331582) of the Registry of C. THIS ADMINISTRATIVE CASE IS PREMATURE
Deeds of Quezon City, together with all the improvements CONSIDERING THAT THE MATTERS RAISED THEREIN
existing thereon, free from all liens and encumbrances and ARE STILL ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED IN PENDING
once accomplished, to immediately deliver said document CASES; HENCE, ITS OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL IS
of sale to plaintiffs, and upon receipt thereof, the plaintiffs APPROPRIATELY CALLED FOR AND WARRANTED.12
are ordered to pay defendants the whole balance of the
purchase price amounting to P1,190,000.00 in cash.
The respondent was vehement in denying that he abused legal
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 331582 of the Registry of
processes and remedies, as the issues raised in the subsequent
Deeds of Quezon City in the name of intervenor is hereby
actions he filed were valid and meritorious, the resolution of which
cancelled and declared to be without any force and effect.
were indispensable for the orderly administration of justice. Thus:
Defendants and intervenor, and all other persons claiming
under them, are hereby ordered to vacate the subject
property and deliver possession thereof to plaintiffs. It is basic that a counsel may resort to all legal reliefs and
Plaintiffs’ claim for damages and attorney’s fees, as well as remedies available and to invoke all pertinent provisions of
the counterclaims of defendants and intervenors, are the law and rules, to protect the interest of a client in order
hereby dismissed. that justice may be done and duly administered. In fact, it is
not only the right of a counsel to do so but rather, it is his
bounden and sacred obligation as an officer of the court
No pronouncement as to costs.
and as an advocate who is tasked to protect the interest of
a client within the bounds of law.
So ordered.3

The Mabanag Spouses, through the respondent as their counsel,
appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R.
Thus, in Civil Case No. Q-91-31268, with the Regional
CV No. 23000. In its Decision4 promulgated on December 16, 1991,
Trial Court of Quezon City, which is the first complaint,
the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the RTC in toto.
what was challenged therein is the eligibility of Ramona
Unsatisfied with the judgment of the appellate court, the respondent
Patricia Alcaraz, to own urban commercial lands, within the
elevated the matter to this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 103577. The
ambit of Batas Pambansa Blg. 185, considering that she is
petition for review was dismissed, and the judgment appealed from
not a Filipino citizen or at least, she does not appear nor
was, likewise, affirmed in toto in the Court’s Decision5 dated October
was she alleged to be so. Evidently, therefore, this is not
7, 1996.6 The Court found that the questioned sale of the parcel of
intended to forestall the execution of the judgment which already final, which, of course, as shown in the earlier
must be executed, pursuant to the rules that is, in discussions, are farthest from the truth.
accordance with the dispositive portion thereof. Otherwise
stated, the execution, if it must be undertaken, must be While all of the foregoing issues were still pending as they
made in accordance with and consistently (sic) the are still pending up to the present, the complainant and
dispositive portion thereof. It is well settled that counsel, purportedly sold and transferred the subject
execution must conform to that ordained or decreed in property, using the title being assailed and questioned in
the dispositive portion of the decision. … CA-G.R. SP No. 55576, to a third person, one Emelita
Mariano, with the purported deed of absolute sale being
As shown in the earlier narrations, the foregoing case is notarized by the same counsel of the herein complainant,
presently on appeal with the Honorable Court of Appeals Atty. Oscar R. Ferrer, who is representing the Alcarazes in
and is still pending thereat, up to the present. the abovesaid cases; hence, he cannot feign ignorance of
the pendency of the said cases and the issues involved
With regards to the petition for certiorari filed with the therein which cast questions on the said title and, thus,
Honorable Court of Appeals, docketed thereat as CA-G.R. rendered the purported transfer or sale fatally defective.
SP No. 4770 (sic), whereby a decision was already
rendered and such decision is already final and executory, True to his duty to his client and as an officer of the court
the issues therein disposed as raised, pertinently pertained and in order to maintain the integrity, dignity and
to the questioned and assailed Orders of the trial court orderliness in the administration of justice, herein
which granted the writ of execution, upon motion of parties respondent counsel, filed in behalf of his client, the
who are purportedly the principals of the complainant and Complaint in Civil Case No. Q-01-43396, on February 15,
his counsel. After the denial of the said petition and the 2001, with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, for
finality of the judgment of such denial, partial execution the annulment of the title issued in favor of the third person,
ensued and was not of course, even attempted to be Emelita L. Mariano, for the annulment of the Deed of
forestalled by the herein respondent counsel and his Absolute Sale to her and Damages with prayer for a
clients. temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary
injunction.
However, the execution being undertaken later on was
shown to have been exceeded when, despite the fact that When no temporary restraining order and/or writ of
there is no showing that the parties who were supposed to preliminary injunction were issued by the trial court, herein
execute a deed of absolute sale pursuant to the dispositive respondent counsel, in behalf of his client, availed of the
portion of the subject decision being sought to be legally available remedy of a special civil action of
implemented, had refused or at least failed, after demand, certiorari, assailing on jurisdictional/grave abuse of
to so execute and perform the foregoing acts, the trial court discretion grounds, the refusal and/or failure of the trial
ordered its branch clerk of court to perform the said acts. In court to issue the prayed for preliminary injunctive reliefs,
fact, it was pointed out that it does not even appear that the among others. Thus, respondent, as counsel for his client,
other parties whose acts are sought, were already served filed with the Honorable Court of Appeals, on July 24,
with the writ of execution; hence, the trial court’s act was 2001, a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for
without basis and/or premature. Nevertheless, the trial a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary
court’s branch clerk of court notwithstanding, proceeded as injunction, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65783, which is
in fact, executed the deed of absolute sale in favor of the still pending resolution of the said Honorable Court up to
Alcarazes. This act of the trial court, with due respect, the present.13
unduly created chaos and confusion, which are antithetical
to its function for an orderly administration of justice and The respondent also alleged that the complainant’s failure to disclose
the fair approximation thereof. the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-01-43396 in the certification
against non-forum shopping in the case at bar was in gross violation
The matter was, thereafter, complicated further, when of Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Because of
despite the fact that the citizenships of the Alcarazes were this, the respondent reasoned, the complaint should be dismissed.
not indicated in the deed of absolute sale which appears to
have been presented with the Register of Deeds of Quezon Finally, the respondent averred that the instant administrative case is
City, the said Register of Deeds cancelled the title of the premature, considering that there are still issues to be resolved in the
client of the herein respondent counsel and issued a new pending cases. As such, no cause of action could accrue against
title over the subject property in favor of the Alcarazes and him. The respondent prayed that the complaint be dismissed for
in order to validate and to give a semblance of legality or "utter and palpable lack of merit."
color to the validity of the issuance of the said title, by
making it appear that the Alcarazes are Filipino citizens,
In his Compliance and Comment,14 the complainant asserted that
ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO INDICATION OF THEIR
there was no malice nor inaccuracy resorted to in the filing of the
CITIZENSHIP IN THE SUBJECT DEED OF ABSOLUTE
complaint against the respondent. The complainant averred that he
SALE, nevertheless, indicated in the new title that the
was constrained to file the instant complaint out of exasperation, if
Alcarazes are Filipinos.
not desperation, upon the instruction of his principals, so as to stop
the respondent from continuing with his "dilatory and obstructionist
Thus, the herein respondent counsel, in behalf of his client strategies" to deprive them of their rights already confirmed by the
and to protect their interest, this time, was constrained to courts, from the RTC to the Supreme Court. Thus:
institute a petition with the Honorable Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55576,whereby they assailed
… In order to stall the execution of the favorable decision
the jurisdiction of the trial judge in decreeing the foregoing
obtained by my principals Concepcion Alcaraz and her
execution of acts not included in the disposition portion of
daughter Ramona Patricia Alcaraz as early as March 1,
the decision being sought to be executed and to perform
1989, in Civil Case No. Q-44134, respondent acting in
acts within the exclusive competence and direction of the
behalf of his clients, went to this Court three (3) times in
Register of Deeds pursuant to Providential Decree No.
said case and several times also to the Court of Appeals
1529, otherwise known as the Board Registration Decree.
on appeals, petitions for certiorari, etc.
This case is still pending with the Honorable Court of
Appeals up to the present; hence, it is misleading for the
complainant to even insinuate that a decision thereon is
… Although respondent admits the fact that the subject issues have already been passed upon and upheld by both
decision of the court a quo is already final and executory, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. In the case
he insists that "the issues in the other cases are indeed docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65783, the First Division of
different." He argues in his comment that the issue in his the Court of Appeals "observed that Mabanag’s counsel,
petition (Annex "2" to Comment) pertained to the issuance (respondent herein) has questioned the non-eligibility of
of a writ of execution to implement the abovesaid final and Ramona Alcaraz to acquire property in the Philippines for
executory decision." This is plain hair-splitting aimed to the nth time although as early as 30 July 1998, the Court
muddle the issues and ultimately mislead the Honorable of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 47710 had already affirmed
Court.15 the lower court’s ruling that the petitioner is not the proper
party to question the eligibility of Alcaraz to own property in
The Recommendation of the Integrated Bar Of The Philippines the Philippines. The petition for review on certiorari before
(IBP) the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 135820 upheld the right of
Commission On Bar Discipline Ramona Alcaraz as one of the vendees in the deed of sale.
The Supreme Court passed judgment on her capacity to
buy the property. The issue was recycled in CA-G.R. SP
On October 25, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution
No. 55576, Entry of Judgment was already issued by the
No. XVI-2003-237, finding that the foregoing recommendation of the
Supreme Court on 2 January 1997. However, petitioner
Commissioner was fully supported by the records, as well as the
has succeeded for more than five (5) years now to hold
applicable laws. The Board found that the respondent violated Rule
at bay the full implementation of the judgment in
12.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and recommended
point." Likewise, in dismissing the complaint filed by
his suspension for one (1) year.
respondent on behalf of his client before RTC QC Branch
83 docketed as Case No. Q-97-31268 entitled Mabanag
The Court’s Ruling vs. Patricia Ramona Alcaraz, et. al. to declare Patricia
Alcaraz ineligible to acquire real property, the court
At the outset, the Court would like to stress that administrative cases observed that for failure of the plaintiffs to get a
against lawyers belong to a class of their own.16 As we held in the favorable decision of the earlier case, they tried to
leading case of In re Almacen:17 prevent the execution by disqualifying herein
defendant. (Emphasis ours).
… Neither purely civil not purely criminal, they do not
involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather In the case docketed as CA-G.R. SP [No.] 65783, a
investigations by the Court into the conduct of one of its pertinent portion of the Court of Appeals decision reads
officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are] "While lawyers owe (sic) entire devotion to the interest of
in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is their client’s right, they should not forget that they are
neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be officers of the court bound to exert every effort to assist in
initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] the speedy and efficient administration of justice – they
primary objective, and the real question for determination is should not, therefore, misuse the rules of procedure to
whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed defeat the ends of justice or unduly delay a case, impede
the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its the execution of a judgment or misuse the court processes
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member (Eternal Gardens Memorial Park Corporation vs. Court of
of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Appeals, 293 SCRA 622)."20
Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the
legal profession and the proper and honest administration It has, thus, been clearly established that in filing such numerous
of justice by purging the profession of members who by petitions in behalf of his client, the respondent thereby engaged in
their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer forum shopping. The essence of forum shopping is the filing of
worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of
pertaining to the office of an attorney. ….18 action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of
obtaining a favorable judgment. It exists when, as a result of an
As such, the instant complaint cannot be dismissed as prayed for by adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion in
the respondent. another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings
grounded on the same cause to increase the chances of obtaining a
We agree that the respondent is administratively liable. favorable decision. An important factor in determining the existence
of forum shopping is the vexation caused to the courts and the
The respondent, by his own admission, filed multifarious petitions, parties-litigants by the filing of similar cases to claim substantially the
motions and actions concerning the sale of the property in question, same reliefs.21
after the Court already ruled in G.R. No. 103577 that the said sale
was correctly upheld by both the trial and appellate courts. He, Indeed, while a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client, it
thereafter, filed two other initiatory pleadings before the RTC of should not be at the expense of truth and the administration of
Quezon City, namely, Civil Case No. Q-97-31268 and Civil Case No. justice. Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer has
Q-01-43396. The same matter subject of the original complaint was the duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice,
elevated to the Court of Appeals no less than four (4) times: CA-G.R. and is enjoined from unduly delaying a case by impeding execution
CV No. 65124, CA-G.R. SP No. 65783, CA-G.R. CV No. 75911, and of a judgment or by misusing court processes.22 Such filing of
CA-G.R. SP No. 55576. And from there, the matter was again multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Court’s processes and
brought before this Court twice: G.R. No. 135820 and G.R. No. improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the
153142.19 administration of justice and will be punished as contempt of court.
Needless to add, the lawyer who files such multiple or repetitious
We concur with the following observations made by IBP petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and
Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala in her Report and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for
Recommendation dated October 3, 2003: incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his
duties as an attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts, and to
maintain only such actions as appear to him to be just and are
The issue being raised by the respondent on behalf of his
consistent with truth and honor.23
clients in all the complaints, appeals, petitions and motions
he has filed is the question of non-eligibility of Ramona
Alcaraz to acquire property in the Philippines and the nullity We note that while lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of
of the sale between Alcaraz and the Coronels. These their clients and zeal in the defense of their client’s right, they should
not forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of the court, 39 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dumaguete City.5 The Court
bound to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient of Appeals presented the facts of this case as follows:
administration of justice.24
"Atty. Gerardo Lituanas, a lawyer of the LAPIL (IBP) Negros Oriental,
In filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same who was also an [e]lection [r]egistrar of the COMELEC, filed the
subject matter, the respondent violated Canon 12 of the Code of complaint in 1975;
Professional Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall exert
every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and Atty. Lituanas was able to present evidence on the following dates:
efficient administration of justice. He also violated Rule 12.0225 and
Rule 12.0426 of the Code, as well as a lawyer’s mandate "to delay no
July 10, 1981
man for money or malice."
First plaintiffs' witness Atilano Ramirez, 73 years old, was presented;
We find that the IBP’s recommended penalty of one year’s
suspension from the practice of law is not commensurate to the
respondent’s transgression. He shall thus be meted a two-year July 16, 1981
suspension from the practice of law, effective immediately.
Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
WHEREFORE, for trifling with judicial processes by resorting to
forum shopping, respondent Atty. Arnold V. Guerrero is hereby August 24, 1982
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of Two (2) Years.
The respondent is DIRECTED to inform the Court of the date of his Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
receipt of this Decision. Let a copy of this Decision be included in the
respondent’s files which are with the Office of the Bar Confidant, and November 20, 1984
circularized to all courts and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Continuation of the testimony of Atilano Ramirez;
SO ORDERED.
February 28, 1984
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Direct Examination of 2ndPlaintiffs' witness Ignacio Tomias. Cross-
THIRD DIVISION examination was waived.

G.R. No. 133625 September 6, 2000 August 21, 1985

REMEDIOS F. EDRIAL, MAURO EDRIAL JR., MARYLENE Plaintiff Pedro Quilat-Quilat was presented on direct examination.
EDRIAL, ILDEFONSO EDRIAL, ROSALIND EDRIAL, MARY JEAN
EDRIAL, and SUSAN EDRIAL-VALENZUELA, petitioners,
"On December 16, 1986, the Citizen Legal Assistance Office (CLAO)
vs.
entered its appearance as new [private respondents'] counsel after
PEDRO QUILAT-QUILAT, GABRIELA QUILAT-QUILAT, ISIDRA
Atty. Gerardo Lituanas has filed his withdrawal. The subsequent
QUILAT-QUILAT, and ESTANISLAO QUILAT-
events are as follows:
QUILAT, respondents.

February 23, 1987


DECISION

The case was set for hearing on April 21, 1987.


PANGANIBAN, J.:

April 21, 1987


Parties who prayed for and were granted several postponements and
caused repeated delays cannot ask for the reopening of the trial for
the purpose of presenting additional evidence. After squandering The hearing was reset due to the projected amendment of the
several opportunities given them to ventilate their claims, they can no complainant to implead Primitiva Torrecampo.
longer complain of alleged violation of their right to due process.
June 19, 1987
The Case
The third amended complaint was admitted.
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari, assailing the October
17, 1997 Decision1 and the March 19, 1998 Resolution2 of the Court September 9, 1987
of Appeals (CA)3 in CA-GR SP No. 42660. The CA affirmed the Order
of the trial court, which had denied their Motion to Reopen the Case Hearing was postponed at the instance of the defendants [herein
and to allow them to complete the presentation of their evidence. The petitioners].
assailed Decision disposed as follows:4
October 22, 1987
"WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED."
The hearing was suspended for the reason that the Court would
The Resolution denied reconsideration of the challenged Decision. require the [private respondents] to submit a certification from the
Bureau of Forest Development that the land involved in this case
The Facts [was] not a part of the public forest.

Respondents Pedro, Gabriela, Isidra and Estanislao - all surnamed December 17, 1987
Quilat-Quilat -- filed an action for recovery of a parcel of land against
Petitioners Remedios, Mauro Jr., Marylene, Idelfonso, Rosalind, The hearing was postponed at the request of [private respondents']
Mary Jean -- all surnamed Edrial -- and Susan Edrial-Valenzuela. counsel for the reason that she [would] be attending [a] conference in
The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 6315 and raffled to Branch Cebu City.
March 18, 1988 this day, the cross-examination of Atilano Ramirez was considered
waived and the case was finally submitted for decision.
The hearing was aborted due to the fact that the Bureau of Forest
Development report ha[d] not yet been finished. December 11, 1992

July 5, 1988 Court granted the prayer of Atty. Sedillo and the case [was] set for
hearing on March 22, 29 and April 5 1993.
The hearing [was] reset upon agreement of both counsel.
March 22, 1993
September 15, 1988
Atty. Sedillo did not present evidence but instead moved for a
The hearing [was] reset upon the Court's instance. resetting of the hearing to April 12, 1993. He [was] advised by the
Court to be prepared on the next scheduled hearing.
December 8, 1988
June 4, 1993
No hearing was held as the certification from the Bureau of Forest
Development [was] being awaited. Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to July 2, 1993.

March 16, 1989 July 2, 1993

The said certification [was] still being awaited. Flaviano Umbac was presented as first [petitioners'] witness. Hearing
[was] scheduled [for] August 27, 1993.
May 25, 1989
August 27, 1993
The testimony of [Private Respondent] Pedro Quilat-Quilat [was]
suspended after a question was [propounded] that would require him [Petitioners] moved for a resetting to October 7, 1993.
to use reading eyeglasses which he did not have at the moment.
October 7, 1993
December 14, 1989
Atty. Bongaciso was presented as second witness for the
Hearing [was] reset due to the illness of [private respondents'] [petitioners]. His testimony [was] terminated and hearing [was] reset
counsel. to December 13, 1993.

September 20, 1990 December 13, 1993

Atty. Eleccion, [petitioners'] counsel did not appear despite due Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to February 14, 1994.
notice. At this time, the [private respondents] rested their case.
February 14, 1994
October 15, 1990
Hearing [was] reset at the instance of Atty. Sedillo who want[ed] to
Atty. Eleccion [private respondents'] counsel did not appear. Hearing recall his witness Atty. Bonganciso. Hearing [was] reset to March 23,
[was] reset to October 16, 1990. 1994.

October 16, 1990 March 24, 1994

Atty. Eleccion did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to December 10, Hearing [was] postponed to May 6, 1994 to find avenue for
11 and 12. settlement.

December 10, 1990 May 6, 1994

Atty. Eleccion asked for postponement. Hearing [was] reset to Due to the conflict of schedule by Atty. Sedillo and due to the
December 11, 1990. absence of recalled 2nd [petitioners'] witness Bongaciso, hearing
[was] reset to June 17, 1994.
December 11, 1990
June 17, 1994
Atty. Eleccion did not appear. The case [was] submitted for decision
as of th[at] day. Atty. Sedillo asked for postponement. He [would] attend a Kiwanis
Training Conference. Hearing [was] reset to July 4, 1994.
August 21, 1992
July 4, 1994
The transcript of stenographic notes which was taken down by
stenographer Alexander Yberley, was missing. He was ordered to Atty. Sedillo was present but Atty. Rosalinda Ybanez [was] available
produce the transcript. at 10:00 a.m. so the case [was] reset to August 15, 1994.

October 30, 1992 August 15, 1994

Witness Atilano Ramirez was recalled for cross-examination since Judge [was] on leave. Hearing [was] reset to October 3, 1994.
stenographer Yberley manifested that the record was burned.
Despite due notice, nobody appeared for the [petitioners]. So as of October 3, 1994
The hearing [was] reset to November 17, 1994 due to non-availability August 20, 1996
of [petitioners'] witness Atty. Roque Bonganciso who [was] on recall.
Private respondents thru counsel filed opposition to the motion of the
November 17, 1994 [petitioners].

There [was] talk about [a] proposed settlement, hearing [was] held in September 6, 1996
abeyance.
The Hon. Judge issued an order denying the motion to reopen
January 6, 1995 hereby affirming the April 26, 1996 order submitting the case for
decision.
Since no settlement [was] realized a [private respondents'] motion to
set [the] case for hearing was filed and the case was reset to September 11, 1996
[February] 27, 1995.
[Petitioners] filed a motion for reconsideration.
February 27, 1995
October 2, 1996
Earlier, [petitioners'] counsel, Atty. Sedillo filed a motion for
postponement as he [would be] appearing in a case in Manila. Atty. Court denied the motion for reconsideration.
Ybanez manifested that on February 26, 1995 Atty. Sedillo was in
Dumaguete and further that this case ha[d] been delayed by the
October 23, 1996
failure of the [petitioners] to complete the presentation of their
evidence. The Court then ordered the case submitted for decision for
the THIRD TIME. Private respondents received a copy of the Petition for Certiorari."6

March 16, 1995 Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The Court issued an order reconsidering the February 27, 1995 order The CA dismissed petitioners' appeal because, in issuing the
upon motion of Atty. Sedillo and set the case for the [petitioners] for questioned Orders, the trial judge committed no grave abuse of
June 16, 1995 with a STERN WARNING TO THE [PETITIONERS]. discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. In giving petitioners more
than ample time to complete their presentation of evidence and in
granting their Motions for Postponement, the judge was
June 16, 1995
accommodating them more than they actually deserved.

The hearing set for [this day] was cancelled as the Judge [was] on Hence, this Petition.7
leave and reset to September 8, 1995.
Issues
September 8, 1995
Petitioners submit that the CA erred in affirming the twin Orders of
The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Hearing [was] reset to
the Dumaguete City RTC, Branch 39. They contend that a reversal
November 16, 1995.
thereof would have allowed them to complete their presentation of
evidence. Hence, by affirming those Orders, the CA allegedly
November 16, 1995 violated their right to due process.8

The [petitioners'] counsel did not appear. Neither did his client. The This Court's Ruling
hearing [was] reset to February 13, 1996.
The Petition is without merit.
February 9, 1996
Main Issue
The [petitioners'] counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel.
Due Process and Reopening of Trial
February 12, 1996
Counsel for petitioners alleges that the addresses of his clients on file
The Court issued an order granting the withdrawal of the [petitioners'] in his law firm were incorrect; hence, the notices and other forms of
counsel. The [petitioners were] directed to immediately engage the communication he had sent to them were not received. He allegedly
services of a new counsel. This notice was received personally by discovered this fact only after he had filed his withdrawal as their
the wife of [Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr. counsel. He also argues that the denial of the Motion to Reopen Trial
was "plainly capricious and oppressive" because private respondents
February 13, 1996 were equally guilty of delay and procrastination. Finally, he maintains
that allowing petitioners to present their remaining evidence would be
The Court issued an order setting the case [for] April 26, 1996. This "in the interest of substantial due process and humane justice."
order was received by the wife of the [Petitioner] Mauro Edrial, Jr.
Respondents disagree, reasoning that the trial court thrice
April 26, 1996 reconsidered its Order to submit the case for decision; that is,
petitioners were given several opportunities to present their
evidence, but they squandered them. Petitioners, they further point
There was no appearance from the [petitioners]. Hence, the case
out, were intentionally seeking to delay the resolution of the case
was submitted for decision for the FOURTH TIME.
because they were in physical possession of the land in dispute.
July 8, 1996
Counsel's excuses are unsatisfactory and unacceptable. The CA
ruled that petitioners were given "more than enough time" to
Atty. Sedillo filed a motion to reopen the case and in effect reentered complete their presentation of evidence. Respondents rested their
his appearance.
case as early as September 1992. Petitioners' lawyer, at his own SO ORDERED.
request, was allowed to start presenting evidence only on April 12,
1993. From that day until April 26, 1996 or for a period of three years, XXXXXXXXXXXX
counsel presented only two witnesses. The trial judge was in fact
liberal in granting petitioners' Motions for Postponement. But enough
G.R. No. L-35252 October 21, 1932
was enough; when they attempted to delay the trial some more, the
trial judge finally and correctly refused to go along.
THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
True, respondents also asked for continuances, but petitioners were
UY TENG PIAO, defendant-appellee.
ultimately to blame for the inexcusable delay. The case was
submitted for decision three times -- on December 11, 1990, October
30, 1992, and February 27, 1995 - but petitioners and/or their Nat. M. Balboa and Dominador J. Endriga for appellant.
counsel did not appear in court each time. After having failed to take Antonio Gonzales for appellee.
advantage of opportunities to ventilate their claims below, parties
may no longer be accorded the same chances, in the absence of
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court, as in this VICKERS, J.:
case.9
This is an appeal by the plaintiff a decision of the Court of First
The Court frowns on lawyers' practice of repeatedly seeking Instance of Manila absolving the defendant from the complaint,
extensions of time to file pleadings and thereafter simply letting the without a special finding as to costs.
period lapse without submitting any pleading or even any explanation
or manifestation of their failure.10 The same principle applies more The appellant makes the following assignments of error:
forcefully to motions for continuance. Postponement is not a matter
of right, but of sound judicial discretion. Actions thereon will not be The trial court erred:
disturbed by appellate courts in the absence of a clear or manifest
abuse of discretion, resulting in a denial of substantial justice.11 We
1. In finding that one Mr. Pecson gave a promise to
concur with the CA that there is no such denial in this case.1âwphi1
appellee Uy Teng Piao to condone the balance of the
judgment rendered against the said Uy Teng Piao and in
It is highly suspicious how the counsel for petitioners continued to favor of the Philippine National Bank in civil case No.
represent his clients effectively for several years despite allegedly 26328 of the Court o First Instance of Manila.
having lost their correct addresses. It was definitely his duty to know
the correct ones. Indeed, it was too late for him to do so after he had
2. In finding that merely in selling the property described in
withdrawn as their counsel. According to him, after April 16, 1996, he
certificate of title No. 11274 situated at Ronquillo Street,
sent an office employee to verify the whereabouts of Mauro Edrial Jr.
Manila, to Mariano Santos for P8,600 (Exhibit 2), the
The inquiry yielded the information that Mauro actually resided in San
appellant had undoubtedly given the alleged promise of
Jose, Negros Oriental, and that Susan Edrial Valenzuela resided in
condonation to appellee Uy Teng Piao.
Gomez St., Dumaguete City.12 He should have undertaken the
search before withdrawing as counsel. Further, notice might not have
been received by petitioners themselves, but that did not excuse 3. In finding that the consideration of document Exhibit 1 is
counsel's failure to appear during trials. the condonation of the balance of the judgment rendered in
said civil case No. 26328.
Counsel for petitioners further avers that he had difficulty in
presenting Atty. Roque Bonganciso because of the latter's prior 4. In finding that said Mr. Pecson, granting that the latter
commitments which conflicted with the scheduled trial dates. The last has actually given such promise to condone, could bind the
witness was Mauro Edrial Jr., but counsel had the wrong address on appellant corporation.
file. He should just have adjusted the order of presentation of
witnesses and called Edrial Jr. later. Such move could have 5. In holding that the absence of demand for payment upon
prevented the postponement. Besides, finding an available date in appellee Uy Teng Piao for the balance of the said judgment
his calendar would not have taken Atty. Bonganciso three years. from February 11, 1925 up to the year 1930 is "una senal
inequivoca una prueba evidente" of the condonation of the
The Code of Professional Responsibility requires that lawyers, after balance of the said judgment.
obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs,
shall not let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering 6. In finding that by the sale of the said property to Mariano
an explanation for their failure to do so (Rule 12.03).13 Moreover, they Santos for the sum of P8,600, the said judgment in civil
should avoid any action that would unduly delay a case, impede the case No. 26328 has been more than fully paid even
execution of a judgment or misuse court processes (Rule 12.04). discounting the sum of P1,300 which appellant paid as the
highest bidder for the said property.
For the benefit of the bench and bar, worth repeating is the CA's
reminder to petitioners' counsel of his duty to his client and to the 7. In declaring that the offer of appellee Uy Teng Piao as
court: shown by Exhibits D and D-1, reflects only the desire of the
said appellee Uy Teng Piao to avoid having a case with the
"Being an officer of the court a lawyer is part of the machinery in the appellant bank.
administration of justice. Like the court itself, he is an instrument to
advance its ends-the speedy, efficient, impartial, correct and 8. In finally absolving appellee Uy Teng Piao and in not
inexpensive adjudication of cases and the prompt satisfaction of final sentencing him to pay the amount claimed in the complaint
judgments. A lawyer should not only help attain these objectives but with costs.
should likewise avoid any unethical or improper practices that
impede, obstruct or prevent their realization, charged as he is with On September 9, 1924, the Court of First Instance of Manila
the primary task of assisting in the speedy and efficient rendered a judgment in favor of the Philippine National Bank and
administration of justice."14 against Uy Teng Piao in civil case No. 26328 for the sum of
P17,232.42 with interest at 7 per cent per annum from June 1, 1924,
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision plus 10 per cent of the sum amount for attorney's fees and costs. The
and Resolution AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners. court ordered the defendant to deposit said amount with the clerk of
the court within three months from the date of the judgment, and in intereses? Mejor deje usted ya todos sus bienes para
case of his failure to do so that the mortgaged properties described in cubrir sus deudas.
transfer certificates of title Nos. 7264 and 8274 should be sold at
public auction in accordance with the law and the proceeds applied P. El señor Pecson le dijo a usted "mejor deje usted ya
to the payment of the judgment. todos sus bienes," ¿a que bienes se referia el ? — R. Al
terreno de Ronquillo y al terreno de Paco.
Uy Teng Piao failed to comply with the order of the court, and the
sheriff of the City of Manila sold the two parcels of land at public P. ¿Cual de esos terrenos, el de Ronquillo o el de Paco, el
auction to the Philippine National Bank on October 14, 1924 for P300 que se refiere aqui en el Exhibit 1? — R. Paco,
and P1,000 respectively. primeramente, los dos ambos.

On February 11, 1925, the Philippine National Bank secured from Uy P. Pero este Exhibit 1, ¿a que se refiere; al de Paco o al de
Teng Piao a waiver of his right to redeem the property described in Ronquillo? — R. Parece que Paco.
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 8274, and on the same date the bank
sold said property to Mariano Santos for P8,600.1awphil.net
P. ¿No recuerda usted muy bien? — R. No recuerdo.

Evidently the other parcel, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7264, was
P. Y cuando le dijo a usted el señor Pecson mejor que
subsequently resold by the bank for P2,700, because the account of
dejara todos sus bienes, ¿le dijo a usted a favor de quien
the defendant was credited with the sum of P11,300. In other words,
iba usted a dejar sus bienes? — R. Al Banco Nacional.
the bank credited the defendant with the full amount realized by it
when it resold the two parcels of land.
P. ¿Y que le dijo a usted, si le dijo a usted algo el señor
Pecson con respecto al saldo deudor que usted todavia
The bank brought the present action to revive the judgment for the
era en deber a favor del Banco Nacional? — R. No
balance of P11,574.33, with interest at 7 per cent per annum from
recuerdo mas; pero mas o menos de catorce mil pesos.
August 1, 1930.
P. ¿Que le dijo el con respeto al saldo, si el cobraria
In his amended answer the defendant alleged as a special defense
todavia o se le condonaria?
that he waived his right to redeem the land described in transfer
certificate of title No. 8274 in consideration of an understanding
between him and the bank that the bank would not collect from him Sr. ENDRIGA. Es alternativa la pregunta. Me opongo.
the balance of the judgment. It was on this ground that the trial court
absolved the defendant from the complaint. JUZGADO. Cambiese la pregunta.

In our opinion the defendant has failed to prove any valid agreement P. ¿Que le dijo a usted con respeto al saldo, una vez
on the part of the bank not to collect from him the remainder of the otorgado este Exhibit 1?
judgment. The alleged agreement rests upon the uncorroborated
testimony of the defendant, the pertinent part of whose testimony on SR. ENDRIGA. La pregunta no tiene ninguna base. Nos
direct examination was as follows: openemos.

P. En este documento aparece que usted, por Sr. GONZALES. Si dice el que se havian vendido todos los
consideracion de valor recibido del Banco Nacional terrenos.
demandante en la presente causa, renuncia a su derecho
de recompra de la propiedad vendida por el Sheriff en JUZGADO. Puede contestar.
publica subasta el catorce de octubre de mil novecientos
veintecuatro a favor del Banco Nacional; ¿quiere usted
Sr. ENDRIGA. Excepcion.
explicar al Honorable Juzgado, cual es esta consideracion
de valor? — R. Si, señor. Esto desde mil novecientos
veintitres o mil novecientos veintecuatro, no recuerdo bien, R. Me dijo que para que usted no cobre alquileres y no
me haba dicho el señor Pecson, porque algunas veces yo pague intereses deje usted esos terrenos de Ronquillo y
no podia pagar esos intereses mensuales. Entonces me terreno de Paco para cubrir ya todas mis deudas.
dijo Pecson, "¿como puede usted recibir alquileres y no Entonces dije ya, si, como yo tengo buena fe con este
paga usted intereses?" Banco. Hasta que al fin yo dije que queria yo comprar.

P. ¿Quien es ese señor Pecson? — R. Era encargado de P. Cuando usted firmo el once de febrero de mil
este asunto. novecientos veintecinco este documento Exhibit 1, ¿recibio
usted algun centimo de dinero del Banco? — R. Nada,
absolutamente.
P. ¿Que era el del Banco Nacional, usted sabe? — R. Era
encargado de estas transacciones. Cuando tenia
necesidad siempre llamaba yo al señor Pecson. Entonces When asked on cross-examination if Pecson was not in Iloilo at the
hable al señor Pecson que somos comerciantes, algunas time of the execution of defendant's waiver of his right to redeem, the
veces los alquileres no pueden cobrarse por anticipado. defendant answered that he did not know; asked when Pecson had
spoken to him about the matter, the defendant replied that he did not
remember.
Sr. ENDRIGA. No es responsiva la contestacion a la
pregunta.
One of the attorneys for the plaintiff testified that the defendant
renounced his right to redeem the parcel of land in Calle Ronquillo,
Sr. GONZALEZ. Si esta explicando y no ha terminado el
Exhibit 1, because a friend of the defendant was interested in buying
testigo su contestacion.
it.
JUZGADO. Que la termine.
The bank ought to have presented Pecson as a witness, or his
deposition, if he was not residing in Manila at the time of the trial.
TESTIGO. Me dijo el señor Pecson que es cosa mala para
mi "¿por que usted cobra alquileres y no paga los
With respect to the testimony of the bank's attorney, we should like to "magkitoan"1 which means "we will have sex." Obeying the instruction
observe that although the law does not forbid an attorney to be a of accused-appellant, she removed her panty. Thereafter, she was
witness and at the same time an attorney in a cause, the courts placed "on top and in-between accused-appellant’s legs"2 who then
prefer that counsel should not testify as a witness unless it is inserted his penis into her vagina. While accused-appellant was
necessary, and that they should withdraw from the active satisfying his salacious desire, Cirilo Guirela, the victim’s uncle
management of the case. (Malcolm, Legal Ethics, p. 148.) Canon 19 arrived. When she saw her uncle Cirilo, she ran away. Thereafter,
of the Code of Legal Ethics reads as follows: Cirilo told Jesus Amenia, brother-in-law of accused-appellant, that
the latter raped his niece. Jesus Amenia got angry with the accused-
When a lawyer is a witness for his client, except as to appellant then proceeded home with the latter.
merely formal matters, such as the attestation or custody of
an instrument and the like, he should leave the trial of the On December 14, 1991, Cirilo reported the matter to the Barangay
case to other counsel. Except when essential to the ends Captain3 and was advised to report the incident to the police authority
of justice, a lawyer should avoid testifying in court in behalf of Libmanan, Camarines Sur.4 The police advised the examination of
of his client. the victim at the Libmanan District Hospital.

Defendant's testimony as to the alleged agreement is very uncertain. On December 15, 1991, Dr. Cynthia S. Algery of Libmanan District
There is no mention in Exhibit 1 as to such an agreement on the part Hospital examined the six-year-old victim. The examination revealed
of the bank. Exhibit 1 relates only to the land in Calle Ronquillo. If hymenal laceration at 3 o’clock caused by any organ which is
Pecson had made any such agreement as the defendant claims, it is inserted into the vagina, like a penis, and hypremia of the introitus
reasonable to suppose that he would have required the defendant to (redness found at the entrance of the vagina).5 While being
waive his right to redeem both parcels of land, and that the examined, the doctor asked the victim what happened and the victim
defendant, a Chines business man, would have insisted upon some described the person who raped her.6
evidence of the agreement in writing. It appears to us that the
defendant waived his right to redeem the land in Calle Ronquillo, On February 12, 1992, an information for the crime of rape was filed
because a friend of his wished to purchase it and was willing to pay against Nolito Boras y Doe alleging-
therefor P8,600, and the bank agreed to credit the defendant with the
full amount of the sale.
"That on or about the 13th day of December 1991, at about 9:00
o’clock in the morning, at Brgy. Bahay, Municipality of Libmanan,
Furthermore, if it be conceded that there was such an understanding Province of Camarines Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
between Pecson and the defendant as the latter claims, it is not this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design,
shown that Pecson was authorized to make any such agreement for with violence and force, intimidation and with grave abuse of
the bank. Only the board of directors or the persons empowered by confidence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
the board of directors could bind the bank by such an agreement. have carnal knowledge with Melanie Medalla, a six (6) years old
There is no merit in the contention that since the bank accepted the (sic), against her will and the offended party suffered damages.
benefit of the waiver it cannot now repudiate the alleged agreement.
The fact that the bank after having bought the land for P1,000 resold
"ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW."7
it at the instance of the defendant for P8,600 and credited the
defendant with the full amount of the resale was a sufficient
consideration for the execution of defendant's waiver of his right to Upon arraignment on May 18, 1992, the accused, assisted by
redeem. counsel, pleaded not guilty.

For the foregoing reasons, the decision appealed from is reversed, At the trial, on December 22, 1992, counsel for the accused–
and the defendant is condemned to pay the plaintiff the sum of appellant manifested in court that he noticed something strange with
P11,574.38 with interest thereon at the rate of 7 per cent per annum the accused-appellant and asked that the latter be examined by a
from August 1, 1930, and the costs of both instances. psychiatrist to determine his mental fitness. The trial court advised
the counsel to file a formal motion for the examination of the
accused. Thereafter trial ensued.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
On June 16, 1993, the defense presented accused-appellant. When
G.R. No. 127495 December 22, 2000
asked about his personal circumstances, he answered that his name
is Diosdado Macapagal;8 that he does not know the name of his
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, father and his mother; that he does not know whether he has a
vs. brother and sister; that he does not know Tinagis Penal Farm where
NOLITO BORAS Y DOE, accused-appellant. he is presently confined; that he does not know how he was able to
come to court and who escorted him. On such note, the trial court
DECISION issued an Order setting forth the foregoing declarations, with further
pronouncement that accused-appellant in all appearances seems to
BUENA, J.: be normal but is feigning insanity. Thus, the Provincial Warden of
Tinagis Penal Farm was directed to bring accused-appellant to Don
Susano Rodriguez Mental Hospital at Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur for
For allegedly raping a six year-old girl, Nolito Boras was convicted of
necessary physical and mental examination and observation in order
statutory rape by the Regional Trial Court of Libmanan, Camarines
to determine whether he is insane or not, and whether he has the
Sur and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua,
necessary faculties to undergo trial. The Chief of Susano Rodriguez
and to pay P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. Hence, this appeal
Mental Hospital was directed to admit and conduct the necessary
questioning his conviction.
examination and submit a written report to the trial court on the
mental condition of the accused within 15 days after the last
On December 13, 1991, while Melanie Medalla’s parents were examination/treatment. Pending the submission of the report, the
sleeping in their house at Barangay Bahay, Libmanan, Camarines hearing was suspended. After the issuance of the
Sur, she remained downstairs playing alone. At around 9 o’clock in aforementioned Order, accused-appellant rendered two songs, one
the morning of that day, Nolito Boras, herein accused-appellant, went after another, after the trial court requested him.9
to her and invited her to go with him. Since she is familiar with the
accused-appellant as neighbor, she was cajoled to go with him.
On May 2, 1995, the Bicol Regional Hospital - Department of
When they arrived at a guava tree near the coconut plantation, which
Psychiatry submitted its report on the mental status of Nolito Boras
is about 15 meters from her house, accused-appellant told her
remarking that accused-appellant was "coherent and relevant" and
that he was "free of psychotic signs and symptoms." The remarks was sexual intercourse. The victim even demonstrated in court how
further stated that accused-appellant knows the case filed against she was raped by the accused-appellant in squatting position by
him and that his anxiety or apprehension was due to fears of being holding her hips.15 She narrated that she felt pain and when she was
incarcerated in jail.10 crying, accused-appellant stopped thrusting his organ. She declared
that she was not able to shout because during the sexual contact,
After trial, judgment was rendered convicting accused-appellant, thus accused-appellant was covering her mouth.16 Her credible testimony
- alone suffices to establish accused-appellant’s guilt.17 In rape, mere
touching by the male’s organ, or instrument of sex, of the labia of the
pudendum of the female’s private part is sufficient to consummate
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court finds and so holds
rape.18 But when the victim is below 12 years old, sexual contact of
that the accused Nolito Boras is found guilty of the offense of
the male’s sex organ with the woman’s private part consummates
statutory rape of Melanie Medalla, a six (6) year old girl at the time of
rape and it is not required to prove force, intimidation, or
the rape and, therefore, sentences him to suffer the penalty of
consent.19 The victim’s declarations were corroborated by the
reclusion perpetua and is ordered to pay Melanie Medalla the
testimony of her uncle who witnessed the bestial act. Such
amount of P50,000.00 for indemnity. No pronouncement as to cost.
testimonies were further supported by the medical findings of Dr.
Algery who examined the victim two days after the incident. The
"SO ORDERED."11 medical report shows that there was penetration by the male organ
into her genitalia.
Accused-appellant now appeals questioning his conviction for rape,
assigning as error the admission of Exhibit "B", which is a photocopy The victim even testified to other occasions of rape committed
of the certificate of livebirth of the victim. against her by accused-appellant prior to December 13,
1991.20 However, accused-appellant cannot be convicted for the
Initially, to avoid criminal liability, accused-appellant feigned insanity. alleged rapes committed other than the one charged in the
To bolster such imagined dementia, accused-appellant offered his information. A rule to the contrary will violate accused-appellant’s
father’s testimony declaring that accused-appellant was afflicted with constitutional rights to be informed of the nature and cause of the
a mental defect since childhood. As observed by the trial court, accusation against him.21 Such other alleged rapes committed which
accused-appellant is normal. In this regard, the trial court’s are not alleged in the information may be taken only as proof of
observation of the demeanor and deportment of witnesses, as a rule, specific intent or knowledge, plan, system or scheme.22
will not be interfered with, considering that the behavior, gesture,
inflection of voice and manner of responding to questions Anent the second element as to the age of the victim when the crime
propounded to witnesses are best available to the trial court. It is not was committed, accused-appellant questions the admission of the
appropriate to calibrate anew such observations on the basis alone photocopy of the birth certificate of the child invoking Section 3, Rule
of the cold transcript of stenographic notes unless such findings are 130. Accused-appellant argues that the failure of the prosecution to
clearly shown to be arbitrary. In fact, the trial court was not remiss in prove the circumstances that will warrant the admission in evidence
its duty in determining the mental capacity of accused-appellant of the said photocopy, renders the same inadmissible and he cannot
when it ordered accused-appellant’s confinement in a hospital for be convicted of statutory rape since the age of the victim was not
medical and psychiatric evaluation which examination revealed that proven with reasonable certainty. It is clear from the records that
accused-appellant is "sane and coherent." The foregoing steps complainant Melanie Medalla was born on October 23,
clearly demonstrate that the judge had sufficiently and effectively 1985.23 Besides, under Section 36, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court,
satisfied the two components of "insanity test" that will effectively objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after
guarantee accused-appellant’s right to a fair trial, which are: (1) the offer is made. In the case at bar, the photocopy of the birth
whether the defendant is sufficiently coherent to provide counsel with certificate was formally offered in evidence and marked as Exhibit
information necessary or relevant to constructing a defense and (2) "B". It was offered to prove (a) the fact of birth of the victim, and (b)
whether he is able to comprehend the significance of the trial and his the fact that the victim was below twelve years old when she was
relation to it.12 ravished on December 13, 1991. The defense objected to the
purpose for which Exhibit "B" was being offered,24 but did not object
Accused-appellant was convicted under Article 335 of the Revised to the presentation of the photocopied birth certificate which is merely
Penal Code13 which provides that rape is committed by having carnal treated as a secondary evidence. Having failed to raise a valid and
knowledge of a woman under twelve years of age, thus- timely objection against the presentation of this secondary evidence
the same became a primary evidence,25 and the same is deemed
"Article 335. When and how rape is committed. – Rape is committed admitted and the other party is bound thereby. Even so, if the
by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following evidence objected to was not received, it would not have varied the
circumstances. conclusion arrived at by the court as to the correct age of the victim
considering that the victim and her mother testified as to her
1. By using force or intimidation; age.26 The testimony of the mother as to the age of her child is
admissible in evidence for who else would be in the best position to
know when she delivered the child. Besides, the court could very well
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise
assess whether or not the victim is below twelve years old by simply
unconscious; and
looking at her physique and built.

3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is


It must be stressed that in dealing with rape cases of children,
demented.
especially those below twelve years of age, due care must be
observed by the trial court in handling the victim. In fact, more often
"x x x x x x x x x" than not, the grueling experience in the trial court in the course of
direct and cross-examination is more traumatic than the fact of rape
In statutory rape, there are two elements that must be established itself. On such occasions, mishandling of victims lead to
prior to conviction of this crime, namely: (1) that the accused had psychological imbalances which, if not properly treated by medical
carnal knowledge of a woman and (2) that the woman is below experts will lead to an abnormal behavioral response against the idea
twelve years of age.14 of sex itself and disturbed interaction with the opposite sex or of the
same sex. The frightful experience of rape committed to children who
As to the first element, accused-appellant denied having sexual are bereft of "mundane wiles"27necessitates the highest degree of
contact with the victim and challenges the latter’s credibility. After a tact, patience and diplomacy. No woman, especially a child of tender
thorough review of the records of this case, we find the victim’s years would exactly remember step-by-step the sexual intercourse in
testimony credible. From the victim’s narration, it was clear that there the hands of the maniacal beast. It is enough that the child was able
to explain in her own way that there was sexual intercourse. By
subjecting her into explaining whether she was forced or intimidated
is excessive. For proof of force and intimidation is unnecessary in
statutory rape. Considering that there is a medical report
substantiating the allegations made by the victim, the manner of
examination of the victim must be tempered. Especially in this case,
since the child is only six years old who remains uncorrupted. In
rape, mere touching of male’s organ to the pudendum of female’s
organ is enough to consummate the crime. Whether the organ was
fully erect or not, to a child of six years of age, slight penetration
consummates rape. Thus, asking questions like-

"Q: Did you have any opportunity at that time when you were raped
to hold the penis of Nolito Boras?

"A: No, Sir.

"Q: At the time, when you were raped by Nolito Boras, was his penis
hard or soft?

"A: Hard, sir"28

and

"Q: Did you see your Uncle Cerilo Guirela after the accused Nolito
Boras stop pushing and pulling his penis to your vagina or while he
was still in the process of pushing and pulling his penis to your
vagina?

"A: Nolito Boras was not yet finished pushing and pulling his penis to
my vagina."29 are unnecessary, uncalled for and excessive
queries.1âwphi1 Imputation of rape against a neighbor cannot be
concocted with ease for malicious reasons by parents of a six-year-
old child because it would cause more harm than good. Aside from
the traumatic experience of rape, the victim’s story of defloration
must withstand not only the examination in court but also the medical
examination of the victim’s private parts by a licensed physician.

Lastly, at the time of the commission of rape on December 13, 1991,


the victim was only six (6) years old. Statutory rape committed in
1991 is punishable by reclusion perpetua. The present law provides
that when the crime of rape is committed against a child below seven
(7) years of age, death penalty shall be imposed. Considering that
the retroactive application30 of the law will be unfavorable to accused-
appellant, the latter is fortunate enough to be meted only the penalty
of reclusion perpetua. Had it been committed after the enactment of
the new law, this Court will not hesitate to impose the penalty of
death. The award of P50,000.00 representing civil indemnity is
proper. In addition thereto, accused-appellant shall pay
P50,000.0031 representing moral damages without necessity of proof
other than the fact of rape plus P20,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Exemplary damages may be awarded if the crime was committed
with one or more aggravating circumstances. In this case, abuse of
confidence should be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance.
The victim trusted accused-appellant in going with him upon the
latter’s invitation on account of her familiarity with him as their
neighbor.

WHEREFORE, the trial court’s judgment convicting accused-


appellant of statutory rape is hereby AFFIRMED subject to the
MODIFICATION that accused-appellant is ordered to pay
P50,000.00 as moral damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary
damages IN ADDITION to the P50,000.00 civil indemnity awarded by
the trial court.

SO ORDERED.